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Keywords:

  • best linear unbiased predictors;
  • genetic correlation;
  • heritability;
  • path analysis;
  • quantitative genetics;
  • trade-off

Abstract

This study combines path analysis with quantitative genetics to analyse a key life history trade-off in the cricket, Gryllus firmus. We develop a path model connecting five traits associated with the trade-off between flight capability and reproduction and test this model using phenotypic data and estimates of breeding values (best linear unbiased predictors) from a half-sibling experiment. Strong support by both types of data validates our causal model and indicates concordance between the phenotypic and genetic expression of the trade-off. Comparisons of the trade-off between sexes and wing morphs reveal that these discrete phenotypes are not genetically independent and that the evolutionary trajectories of the two wing morphs are more tightly constrained to covary than those of the two sexes. Our results illustrate the benefits of combining a quantitative genetic analysis, which examines statistical correlations between traits, with a path model that focuses upon the causal components of variation.