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Keywords:

  • Genetics;
  • growth;
  • local adaptation;
  • Salmo trutta ;
  • survival

Abstract

The evolution of life-history traits is characterized by trade-offs between different selection pressures, as well as plasticity across environmental conditions. Yet, studies on local adaptation are often performed under artificial conditions, leaving two issues unexplored: (i) how consistent are laboratory inferred local adaptations under natural conditions and (ii) how much phenotypic variation is attributed to phenotypic plasticity and to adaptive evolution, respectively, across environmental conditions? We reared fish from six locally adapted (domesticated and wild) populations of anadromous brown trout (Salmo trutta) in one semi-natural and three natural streams and recorded a key life-history trait (body size at the end of first growth season). We found that population-specific reaction norms were close to parallel across different streams and QST was similar – and larger than FST – within all streams, indicating a consistency of local adaptation in body size across natural environments. The amount of variation explained by population origin exceeded the variation across stream environments, indicating that genetic effects derived from adaptive processes have a stronger effect on phenotypic variation than plasticity induced by environmental conditions. These results suggest that plasticity does not “swamp” the phenotypic variation, and that selection may thus be efficient in generating genetic change.