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Keywords:

  • genetic correlation;
  • genetic covariance;
  • genetic variance;
  • heritability;
  • quantitative genetics

To make long-term predictions using present quantitative genetic theory it is necessary to assume that the genetic variance–covariance matrix (G) remains constant or at least changes by a constant fraction. In this paper we examine the stability of the genetic architecture of two traits known to be subject to natural selection; femur length and ovipositor length in two species of the cricket Allonemobius. Previous studies have shown that in A. fasciatus and A. socius natural selection favours an increased body size southwards but a decreased ovipositor length. Such countergradient selection should tend to favour a change in G. In the total sample of eight populations of A. socius and one of A. fasciatus we show that there is significant variation in all genetic covariance components, i.e. VA for body size, VA for ovipositor length, and CovA. This variation results entirely from an increase in the covariances of A. fasciatus. However, although larger, these components are approximately proportionally increased, thereby leading to no statistically significant change in the genetic correlation. A proportional increase in the covariance components is consistent with changes resulting from genetic drift. On the other hand, the genetic covariance components are significantly correlated with the length of the growing season suggesting that the change in the genetic architecture is the result of selection and drift.