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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/339

Title: A test of the Chitty hypothesis: inheritance of life-history traits in meadow voles Microtus pennsylvanicus
Authors: Boonstra, Rudy
Boag, Peter T.
Issue Date: 1987
Publisher: Society for the Study of Evolution
Citation: Evolution, Vol. 41, No. 5. (Sep., 1987), pp. 929-947.
Abstract: The Chitty hypothesis proposes that the demographic changes occurring in microtine cycles are mediated by natural selection operating on the genetic composition of the population. Implicit in this hypothesis is the assumption that a suite of life-history traits is simultaneously undergoing selection and that these traits are strongly heritable. We tested this in two ways: first, by determining whether the year-to-year differences in phenotypes in fluctuating meadow vole populations in the field are maintained in samples of young animals raised in the laboratory, and second, whether the variation seen in the field has a heritable basis as determined by half-sib analysis. Parents were obtained in the springs of successive years from a fluctuating meadow vole population. These animals were bred in small field enclosures, and their progeny were raised in the laboratory. Animals raised in the laboratory differed significantly from those in the natural field population. In the field, young from the year when population size was increasing grew more rapidly than those from the peak year; in the laboratory, the opposite occurred. The ages at sexual maturity showed similar differences. Heritability analysis was performed on body weight, growth rate, and age and weight at sexual maturity. Virtually all these traits showed significant dam effects, but small or nonexistant sire effects. Thus, most of the variation was nongenetic in origin; maternal and other environmental effects were of overriding importance. We conclude that the heritabilities of these traits in nature are usually lower than necessary for natural selection to operate in the time frames characteristic of microtine cycles.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/339
Appears in Collections:Biology

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