Individual repeatability and heritability of divorce in a wild population

Ryan R. Germain, Matthew E. Wolak, Jane M. Reid

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Abstract

Understanding micro-evolutionary responses of mating systems to contemporary selection requires estimating sex-specific additive genetic variances and cross-sex genetic covariances in key reproductive strategy traits. One key trait comprises the occurrence of divorce versus mate-fidelity across sequential reproductive attempts. If divorce represents an evolving behavioural strategy that responds to selection it must have non-zero individual repeatability and heritability, but quantitative estimates from wild populations are scarce. We used 39 years of individual breeding records and pedigree data from free-living song sparrows (Melospiza melodia) to quantify sex-specific permanent individual and additive genetic variances, and hence estimate repeatability and heritability, in liability for divorce. We estimated moderate repeatability among females, but little repeatability among males. Estimates of additive genetic variance were small in both sexes, and the cross-sex genetic covariance was close to zero. Consequently, the total heritability was small but likely non-zero, indicating low potential for micro-evolutionary response to selection. Rapid micro-evolutionary change of divorce rate therefore appears unlikely, even if there were substantial fitness benefits of divorce and resulting selection.
Original languageEnglish
Article number20180061
Number of pages5
JournalBiology Letters
Volume14
Issue number6
Early online date13 Jun 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2018

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divorce
Divorce
repeatability
heritability
genetic variance
Genetic Crosses
gender
genetic covariance
Population
Sparrows
Passeriformes
Pedigree
Music
mating systems
pedigree
animal communication
Breeding
breeding

Keywords

  • indirect genetic effects
  • mating system evolution
  • social monogamy
  • quantitative genetics

Cite this

Individual repeatability and heritability of divorce in a wild population. / Germain, Ryan R.; Wolak, Matthew E.; Reid, Jane M.

In: Biology Letters, Vol. 14, No. 6, 20180061, 06.2018.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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