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Evolution. 2010 Oct;64(10):2887-903. doi: 10.1111/j.1558-5646.2010.01060.x. Epub 2010 Aug 19.

Across-environment genetic correlations and the frequency of selective environments shape the evolutionary dynamics of growth rate in Impatiens capensis.

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Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


Trade-offs can exist within and across environments, and constrain evolutionary trajectories. To examine the effects of competition and resource availability on trade-offs, we grew individuals of recombinant inbred lines of Impatiens capensis in a factorial combination of five densities with two light environments (full light and neutral shade) and used a Bayesian logistic growth analysis to estimate intrinsic growth rates. To estimate across-environment constraints, we developed a variance decomposition approach to principal components analysis, which accounted for sample size, model-fitting, and within-RIL variation prior to eigenanalysis. We detected negative across-environment genetic covariances in intrinsic growth rates, although only under full-light. To evaluate the potential importance of these covariances, we surveyed natural populations of I. capensis to measure the frequency of different density environments across space and time. We combined our empirical estimates of across-environment genetic variance-covariance matrices and frequency of selective environments with hypothetical (yet realistic) selection gradients to project evolutionary responses in multiple density environments. Selection in common environments can lead to correlated responses to selection in rare environments that oppose and counteract direct selection in those rare environments. Our results highlight the importance of considering both the frequency of selective environments and the across-environment genetic covariances in traits simultaneously.

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