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J Evol Biol. 2006 Nov;19(6):1813-8.

Substantial changes in the genetic basis of tadpole morphology of Rana lessonae in the presence of predators.

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School of Integrative Biology, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.


Predator-induced morphological plasticity is a model system for investigating phenotypic plasticity in an ecological context. We investigated the genetic basis of the predator-induced plasticity in Rana lessonae by determining the pattern of genetic covariation of three morphological traits that were found to be induced in a predatory environment. Body size decreased and tail dimensions increased when reared in the presence of preying dragonfly larvae. Genetic variance in body size increased by almost an order of magnitude in the predator environment, and the first genetic principal component was found to be highly significantly different between the two environments. The across environment genetic correlation for body size was significantly below 1 indicating that different genes contributed to this trait in the two environments. Body size may therefore be able to respond to selection independently in the two environments to some extent.

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