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Keywords:

  • egg size;
  • inbreeding depression;
  • selection gradient;
  • selection intensity;
  • Stator limbatus

Abstract

Little is known about how inbreeding alters selection on ecologically relevant traits. Inbreeding could affect selection by changing the distribution of traits and/or fitness, or by changing the causal effect of traits on fitness. Here, I test whether selection on egg size varies with the degree of inbreeding in the seed-feeding beetle, Stator limbatus. There was strong directional selection favoring large eggs for both inbred and outbred beetles; offspring from smaller eggs had lower survivorship on a resistant host. Inbreeding treatment had no effect on the magnitude of selection on egg size; all selection coefficients were between ~0.078 and 0.096, regardless of treatment. However, inbreeding depression declined with egg size; this is because the difference in fitness between inbreds and outbreds did not change, but average fitness increased, with egg size. A consequence of this is that populations that differ in mean egg size should experience different magnitudes of inbreeding depression (all else being equal) and thus should differ in the magnitude of selection on traits that affect mating, simply as a consequence of variation in egg size. Also, maternal traits (such as egg size) that mediate stressfulness of the environment for offspring can mediate the severity of inbreeding depression.