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J Evol Biol. 2011 Jun;24(6):1363-73. doi: 10.1111/j.1420-9101.2011.02270.x. Epub 2011 Apr 20.

Evolution and stability of the G-matrix during the colonization of a novel environment.

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Section for Animal Ecology, Ecology Building, Lund University, Lund, Sweden.


Populations that undergo a process of rapid evolution present excellent opportunities to investigate the mechanisms driving or restraining adaptive divergence. The genetic variance-covariance matrix (G) is often considered to constrain adaptation but little is known about its potential to evolve during phenotypic divergence. We compared the G-matrices of ancestral and recently established ecotype populations of an aquatic isopod (Asellus aquaticus) that have diverged in parallel in two south Swedish lakes. Phenotypic changes after colonization involved a reduction in overall size, lost pigmentation and changes in shape. Comparisons between G-matrices reveal close similarity within the same ecotype from different lakes but some degree of differentiation among ecotypes. Phenotypic divergence has apparently not been much influenced by the orientation of G. Additive genetic variation in the newly colonized habitats has also decreased substantially. This suggests that a process of adaptation from standing genetic variation has occurred and has probably facilitated phenotypic divergence.

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