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Trends Ecol Evol. 1991 Sep;6(9):276-80. doi: 10.1016/0169-5347(91)90004-H.

Path analyses of selection.

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Dept of Zoology at the University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA.


Identifying the targets and causal mechanisms of phenotypic selection in natural populations remains an important challenge for evolutionary biologists. Path analysis is a statistical modeling approach that may aid in meeting this challenge. We describe several types of path model that are relevant to the analysis of selection, and review some recent empirical studies that apply path models to issues in pollination biology, phenotypic integration and selection on morphometric and ontogenetic traits. Path analysis may play two roles in the analysis of selection: first, as an exploratory analysis suggesting possible targets of selection, which are then tested by direct experimentation; and second, as a means of evaluating the relative importance of different causal pathways of selection, once the likely targets of selection have been established.

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