Quantitative genetics of sexually dimorphic traits and capture of genetic variance by a sexually-selected condition-dependent ornament in red junglefowl (Gallus gallus)


T. Parker, Department of Zoology, Edward Grey Institute of Field Ornithology, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3PS UK.
Tel.: +44 1865 281 999; fax: +44 1865 271 168;
e-mail: timothy.parker@zoo.ox.ac.uk


We studied the quantitative genetics of sexually selected traits in a captive population of red junglefowl (Gallus gallus L.) using a multi-generational ‘animal model’ approach. We found significant heritability of mass, tarsus length (both strongly sexually dimorphic), residual mass, and male comb (a fleshy head ornament) length. Residual mass has a genetic correlation between the sexes smaller than unity and so could show partially independent responses to selection in the two sexes. In males, tarsus length and mass were not genetically correlated, and this produced a negative genetic correlation between tarsus length and residual mass. The male red junglefowl's comb, an ornament influencing female choice, is highly condition dependent. We show that expression of this ornament is heritable, however, and shows strong genetic correlation with a condition index, residual mass. Because residual mass is partly influenced by various aspects of condition, it appears that comb size has ‘captured’ genetic variability in condition.