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Am Nat. 2007 Nov;170(5):681-9. Epub 2007 Sep 18.

A general model of functional constraints on phenotypic evolution.

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  • 1epartment of Biology, University of Southern Maine, Portland, Maine, 04103, USA.


A general model of the functional constraints on the rate and direction of phenotypic evolution is developed using a decomposition of the Lande-Arnold model of multivariate phenotypic evolution. The important feature of the model is the F matrix of performance coefficients reflecting the causal relationship between morphophysiological (m-p) and functional performance traits. The structure of F, which reflects the functional architecture of the organism, constrains the shape of the adaptive landscape and thus the rate and direction of m-p trait evolution. The rate of m-p trait evolution is a function of the pattern of coefficients in a row of F. The sums and variances of these rows are related to current concepts of evolvability. The direction of m-p trait evolution through m-p trait space is a function of the functional covariances among m-p traits. The functional covariance between a pair of m-p traits is a measure of how much the traits function together and is computed as the covariance between rows of F. Finally, it is shown that genetic covariances between m-p traits and performance traits are a function of the F matrix, but a G matrix that includes these covariances cannot be used to model functional constraints effectively.

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