Interspecific patterns of phenotypic selection do not predict intraspecific patterns


  • J. R. Ott,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Biology, Population and Conservation Biology Program, Texas State University, San Marcos, TX, USA
    • Correspondence: James R. Ott, Biology Department, Texas State University, 601 University Drive, San Marcos, TX 78666, USA.

      Tel.: +512 245 2321; fax: 512 245 8713; e-mail:

    Search for more papers by this author
  • S. P. Egan

    1. Department of Biological Sciences, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN, USA
    2. Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Rice University, Houston, TX, USA
    Search for more papers by this author


We estimated linear (β) and nonlinear (γ) selection gradients to quantify host plant-mediated selection on the trait gall size in each of 22 unequally sampled subpopulations of the cynipid gall wasp Belonocnema treatae. We characterized the relationship between variation in subpopulation sample size and the magnitude of and the variance among selection gradients. We then tested the hypothesis that the intraspecific patterns we observed would follow two patterns that have emerged from published estimates of linear and nonlinear selection gradients compiled across species, namely that the average magnitude of β and γ and the variance among estimated β and γ decrease with increasing sample size. For both β and γ, intraspecific patterns of phenotypic selection in relation to sample size were not predicted by interspecific patterns. Thus, our results suggest that when selection is heterogeneous among subpopulations, variation in the biological basis for selection is more important in influencing estimates of selection than is variation in study size. Our study highlights the value of inspecting selection in relation to sampling effort at the level at which understanding the sources of variation in selection is most important, among populations within species.