• Allometry;
  • genetic correlations;
  • phenotypic correlations;
  • heritability;
  • song sparrow;
  • morphological variation

We estimated heritabilities, and genetic and phenotypic correlations between beak and body traits in the song sparrow (Melospiza melodia). We compared these estimates to values for the same traits in the Galápagos finches, Geospiza (Boag, 1983; Grant, 1983). Morphological variance is low in the song sparrow, and our results show that genetic and phenotypic correlations are considerably lower than correlations in the morphologically more variable Geospiza. Comparison using a larger sample of Galapagos populations confirms the existence of an association between variance and correlation for phenotypic values. We suggest two possible explanations for this association. First, most traits studied are functionally related, and the joint evolution of variance and correlation may have resulted from stabilizing selection about a line of optimal allometry between traits. Alternatively, introgression between populations and species could have caused correlation and variance to evolve jointly. Both selection and introgression were probably influential in producing the observed pattern, but it is not possible to estimate their relative importance with current data. Genetic and phenotypic correlations were correlated in the song sparrow, but heritabilities of traits varied greatly. As a result, the genetic variance-covariance matrix for traits is not simply a constant multiple of the phenotypic matrix. Evolutionary response to natural selection cannot, therefore, be predicted from the measurement of phenotypic characteristics alone.