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The quantitative genetics of fitness in a wild seabird

Cite this dataset

Moiron, Maria; Charmantier, Anne; Bouwhuis, Sandra (2022). The quantitative genetics of fitness in a wild seabird [Dataset]. Dryad.


Additive genetic variance in fitness is a prerequisite for adaptive evolution, as a trait must be genetically correlated with fitness to evolve. Despite its relevance, additive genetic variance in fitness has not often been estimated in nature. Here, we investigate additive genetic variance in lifetime and annual fitness components in common terns (Sterna hirundo). Using 28 years of data comprising ca. 6000 pedigreed individuals, we find that additive genetic variances in the Zero-inflated and Poisson components of lifetime fitness were effectively zero, but estimated with high uncertainty. Similarly, additive genetic variances in adult annual reproductive success and survival did not differ from zero, but were again associated with high uncertainty. Simulations suggested that we would be able to detect additive genetic variances as low as 0.05 for the Zero-inflated component of fitness, but not for the Poisson component, for which adequate statistical power would require c. two more decades (four tern generations) of data collection. As such, our study suggests heritable variance in common tern fitness to be rather low if not zero, shows how studying the quantitative genetics of fitness in natural populations remains challenging, and highlights the importance of maintaining long-term individual-based studies of natural populations.

Usage notes

Data used for models presented in:

The quantitative genetics of fitness in a wild seabird

by Moiron M., Charmantier A. and Bouwhuis S.

published in Evolution

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These data are part of those collected in an ongoing individual-based longitudinal population study

Additional data are likely to be available, and we are often very happy to collaborate provided that none of our own staff or students is working on a conflicting project


European Commission, Award: 793550

Alexander von Hum