The heritability of inducible defenses in tadpoles


Rick A. Relyea, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15260, USA.
Tel.: (412) 624-4656; fax: (412) 624-4759;


The evolution of plastic traits requires phenotypic trade-offs and heritable traits, yet the latter requirement has received little attention, especially for predator-induced traits. Using a half-sib design, I examined the narrow-sense heritability of predator-induced behaviour, morphology, and life history in larval wood frogs (Rana sylvatica). Many of the traits had significant additive genetic variation in predator (caged Anax longipes) and no-predator environments. Whereas most traits had moderate to high heritability across environments, tail depth exhibited high heritability with predators but low heritability without predators. In addition, several traits had significant heritability for plasticity, suggesting a potential for selection to act on plasticity per se. Genetic correlations confirmed known phenotypic relationships across environments and identified novel relationships within each environment. This appears to be the first investigation of narrow-sense heritabilities for predator-induced traits and confirms that inducible traits previously shown to be under selection also have a genetic basis and should be capable of exhibiting evolutionary responses.