Allen’s rule revisited: quantitative genetics of extremity length in the common frog along a latitudinal gradient

Authors


Jussi S. Alho, Ecological Genetics Research Unit, Department of Biosciences, PO Box 65, FI-00014 University of Helsinki, Finland.
Tel.: +358 (0)9 19157710; fax: +358 (0)9 19157694; e-mail: jussi.alho@helsinki.fi

Abstract

Ecogeographical rules linking climate to morphology have gained renewed interest because of climate change. Yet few studies have evaluated to what extent geographical trends ascribed to these rules have a genetic, rather than environmentally determined, basis. This applies especially to Allen’s rule, which states that the relative extremity length decreases with increasing latitude. We studied leg length in the common frog (Rana temporaria) along a 1500 km latitudinal gradient utilizing wild and common garden data. In the wild, the body size–corrected femur and tibia lengths did not conform to Allen’s rule but peaked at mid-latitudes. However, the ratio of femur to tibia length increased in the north, and the common garden data revealed a genetic cline consistent with Allen’s rule in some trait and treatment combinations. While selection may have shortened the leg length in the north, the genetic trend seems to be partially masked by environmental effects.

Ancillary