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Data from: Heritable variation in colour patterns mediating individual recognition

Cite this dataset

Sheehan, Michael J.; Choo, Juanita; Tibbetts, Elizabeth A. (2017). Data from: Heritable variation in colour patterns mediating individual recognition [Dataset]. Dryad.


Understanding the developmental and evolutionary processes that generate and maintain variation in natural populations remains a major challenge for modern biology. Populations of Polistes fuscatus paper wasps have highly variable colour patterns that mediate individual recognition. Previous experimental and comparative studies have provided evidence that colour pattern diversity is the result of selection for individuals to advertise their identity. Distinctive identity-signalling phenotypes facilitate recognition, which reduces aggression between familiar individuals in P. fuscatus wasps. Selection for identity signals may increase phenotypic diversity via two distinct modes of selection that have different effects on genetic diversity. Directional selection for increased plasticity would greatly increase phenotypic diversity but decrease genetic diversity at associated loci. Alternatively, heritable identity signals under balancing selection would maintain genetic diversity at associated loci. Here, we assess whether there is heritable variation underlying colour pattern diversity used for facial recognition in a wild population of P. fuscatus wasps. We find that colour patterns are heritable and not Mendelian, suggesting that multiple loci are involved. Additionally, patterns of genetic correlations among traits indicated that many of the loci underlying colour pattern variation are unlinked and independently segregating. Our results support a model where the benefits of being recognizable maintain genetic variation at multiple unlinked loci that code for phenotypic diversity used for recognition.

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