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Genetica. 1999;105(1):35-42.

Size and shape heritability in natural populations of Drosophila mediopunctata: temporal and microgeographical variation.

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Departamento de Genética, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.


'Traditional morphometrics' allows us to decompose morphological variation into its major independent sources, identifying them usually as size and shape. To compare and investigate the properties of size and shape in natural populations of Drosophila mediopunctata, estimating their heritabilities and analysing their temporal and microgeographic changes, we carried out collections on seven occasions in Parque Nacional do Itatiaia, Brazil. In one of these collections, we took samples from five different altitudes. Measurements were taken from wild caught inseminated females and up to three of their laboratory-reared daughters. Through a principal component analysis, three major sources of variation were identified as due to size (the first one) and shape (the remaining two). The overall amount of variation among laboratory flies was about half of that observed among wild flies and this reduction was primarily due to size. Shape variation was about the same under natural and artificial conditions. A genetic altitudinal cline was detected for size and shape, although altitude explained only a small part of their variation. Differences among collections were detected both for size and shape in wild and laboratory flies, but no simple pattern emerged. Shape variation had high heritability in nature, close to or above 40% and did not vary significantly temporally. Although on the overall size heritability (18 +/- 6%) was significant its estimates were not consistent along months--they were non-significant in all but one month, when it reached a value of 51 +/- 11%. Overall, this suggests that size and shape have different genetic properties.

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