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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/490

Title: Quantative genetics of life history traits in meadow voles (Microtus pennsylvanicus)
Authors: Boag, Peter
Boonstra, Rudy
Issue Date: 1988
Publisher: Yale University Press
Citation: M.S. Boyce (ed.) 1988. Evolution of Life Histories of Mammals: Theory and Pattern. 149-168
Abstract: Early discussions of life history evolution used ecological and physiological theories to explain why specific patterns of natality and mortality were typical of a taxon living in a given environment (MacArthur and Wilson 1967). When Stearns (1977) reviewed this expanding literature a decade later, he made the important point that, despite all the talk about evolution, little was known about the genetics of life history traits in most natural populations. This omission resulted in part from population dynamicists concentrating on means of life history traits in populations, not variances. It is individual differences in characters correlated with fitness which natural selection shapes into a life history. This distinction is significant because traits in life history analyses (such as body size, age at sexual maturity, and longevity) are continuous variables and obey the laws of quantitative genetics, which revolve around the partitioning of variances and covariances into causal components (Falconer 1981). Models for the evolution of quantitative life history traits are be- coming more widely known (Dingle and Hegmann 1982; Lande 1982), and life history issues such as the "cost of reproduction," traditionally viewed as energy allocation problems, have been reframed in genetic variance and covariance terms, for example, "antagonistic pleiotropy" (Rose 1982). These new approaches have been increasingly applied to wild vertebrate populations, including amphibians (Berven and Gill 1983), fish (Stearns 1984), birds (Boag and van Noordwijk 1987), and mammals (Krohne I 98 I ). The genetics of life history traits has been studied in relatively few natural populations of mammals, primarily cricetid rodents. Many of these data, together with large amounts of background information on their life history traits, exist for voles of the genus Microtu. In this chapter we briefly review a typical microtine life history and point out which traits have been of particular interest to microtine ecologists. We then describe tests for a quantitative genetic basis to variation in life history variables. Finally, we present a preliminary quantitative genetic analysis of meadow voles (Microtu pennsyluanicus) to illustrate the techniques and difficulties of carrying out such investigations.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/490
ISBN: 0300040849
Appears in Collections:Biology

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