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Evolution. 2008 Sep;62(9):2435-40. doi: 10.1111/j.1558-5646.2008.00449.x. Epub 2008 Jul 4.

Estimating nonlinear selection gradients using quadratic regression coefficients: double or nothing?

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Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, and Centre for the Analysis of Genome Evolution & Function, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON M5S 3B2, Canada.


The use of regression analysis has been instrumental in allowing evolutionary biologists to estimate the strength and mode of natural selection. Although directional and correlational selection gradients are equal to their corresponding regression coefficients, quadratic regression coefficients must be doubled to estimate stabilizing/disruptive selection gradients. Based on a sample of 33 papers published in Evolution between 2002 and 2007, at least 78% of papers have not doubled quadratic regression coefficients, leading to an appreciable underestimate of the strength of stabilizing and disruptive selection. Proper treatment of quadratic regression coefficients is necessary for estimation of fitness surfaces and contour plots, canonical analysis of the gamma matrix, and modeling the evolution of populations on an adaptive landscape.

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