Heterozygosity-fitness correlations of conserved microsatellite markers in Kentish plovers Charadrius alexandrinus

Authors

  • CLEMENS KÜPPER,

    1. Department of Biology and Biochemistry, University of Bath, Bath BA2 7AY, UK
    2. NERC Biomolecular Analysis Facility, Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield, Sheffield S10 2TN, UK
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    • Present address: Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA

  • ANDRÁS KOSZTOLÁNYI,

    1. Department of Ethology, Eötvös Loránd University, Pázmány Péter sétány 1/c., H-1117 Budapest, Hungary
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  • JAKOB AUGUSTIN,

    1. Department of Zoology, University of Gothenburg, Box 463, SE 405 30 Gothenburg, Sweden
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  • DEBORAH A. DAWSON,

    1. NERC Biomolecular Analysis Facility, Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield, Sheffield S10 2TN, UK
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  • TERRY BURKE,

    1. NERC Biomolecular Analysis Facility, Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield, Sheffield S10 2TN, UK
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  • TAMÁS SZÉKELY

    1. Department of Biology and Biochemistry, University of Bath, Bath BA2 7AY, UK
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Clemens Küpper, Fax +1 617 495 5667; E-mail: ckuepper@oeb.harvard.edu

Abstract

Heterozygosity-fitness correlations (HFCs) are frequently used to examine the relationship between genetic diversity and fitness. Most studies have reported positive HFCs, although there is a strong bias towards investigating HFCs in genetically impoverished populations. We investigated HFCs in a large genetically diverse breeding population of Kentish plovers Charadrius alexandrinus in southern Turkey. This small shorebird exhibits highly variable mating and care systems, and it is becoming an ecological model species to understand breeding system evolution. Using 11 conserved and six anonymous microsatellite markers, we tested whether and how heterozygosity was associated with chick survival, tarsus and body mass growth controlling for nongenetic effects (chick sex, hatching date, length of biparental care and site quality) that influence survival and growth. There was no genome-wide effect of heterozygosity on fitness, and we did not find any significant effects of heterozygosity on growth rates. However, two of the 11 conserved markers displayed an association with offspring survival: one marker showed a positive HFC, whereas the other marker showed a negative HFC. Heterozygosity at three further conserved loci showed significant interaction with nongenetic variables. In contrast, heterozygosity based on anonymous microsatellite loci was not associated with fitness or growth. Markers that were correlated with chick survival were not more likely to be located in exons or introns than other markers that lacked this association.

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