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Genetics. 1990 Jul;125(3):579-84.

Increased selection response in larger populations. I. Selection for wing-tip height in Drosophila melanogaster at three population sizes.

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  • 1Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138.


The effect of population size on selection response was investigated with replicated selection lines of 40, 200 and 1000 selected parents, using Drosophila melanogaster homozygous for the mutant raised. Selection for increased wing-tip height was carried out for 55 generations, with an average selection intensity of 0.6 standard deviation. The rank order of responses in the seven individual lines was significantly in order of population size, and the variance of response among lines showed a significant effect of population size. The final mean responses (selected - controls, +/- standard errors) in the three treatments, in order of increasing population size, were 8.6 +/- 1.8 mils (three small lines), 15.1 +/- 1.3 mils (two medium lines), and 19.8 +/- 1.5 mils (two large lines). The differences between treatments seem to have emerged too rapidly to be the result of mutations, and are probably due mainly to the utilization of existing variation with greater efficiency by selection in larger populations.

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