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Trends Ecol Evol. 1992 Sep;7(9):307-10. doi: 10.1016/0169-5347(92)90229-5.

Evolution of correlated characters.

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Trevor Price and Tom Langen are at the Dept of Biology, 0116, University of California at San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA.


Many traits are genetically correlated with each other. Thus, selection that changes the mean value of one trait causes other traits to change as well. Recent comparative studies have emphasized the possible importance of such correlated responses in affecting the evolution of traits, including some behaviors, which are of little adaptive significance, or even maladaptive. However, it is also possible for traits with major effects on fitness, such as brain size, to evolve entirely by correlated response. Other traits that do not appear to have evolved at all may have been subject to much directional selection, simply to prevent their evolution by correlated response. The new interest in correlated responses reflects more rigorous attempts to consider the organism as a whole, rather than dissecting it into a number of questionably separable traits.

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