Evolution of genetically correlated traits: Tooth size and body size in baboons



Within a population, only phenotypic variation that is influenced by genes will respond to selection. Genes with pleiotropic effects are known to influence numerous traits, complicating our understanding of their evolution through time. Here we use quantitative genetic analyses to identify and estimate the shared genetic effects between molar size and trunk length in a pedigreed, breeding population of baboons housed at the Southwest National Primate Research Center. While crown area has a genetic correlation with trunk length, specific linear measurements yield different results. We find that variation in molar buccolingual width and trunk length is influenced by overlapping additive genetic effects. In contrast, mesiodistal molar length appears to be genetically independent of body size. This is the first study to demonstrate a significant genetic correlation between tooth size and body size in primates. The evolutionary implications are discussed. Am J Phys Anthropol 2006. © 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.