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Data from: Basal metabolic rate can evolve independently of morphological and behavioural traits


Mathot, Kimberley J.; Martin, Katrin; Kempenaers, Bart; Forstmeier, Wolfgang (2013), Data from: Basal metabolic rate can evolve independently of morphological and behavioural traits, Dryad, Dataset,


Quantitative genetic analyses of basal metabolic rate (BMR) can inform us about the evolvability of the trait by providing estimates of heritability but also of genetic correlations with other traits that may constrain the ability of BMR to respond to selection. Here we studied a captive population of zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata) in which selection lines for male courtship rate have been established. We measure BMR in these lines to see whether selection on male sexual activity would change BMR as a potentially correlated trait. We find that the genetic correlation between courtship rate and BMR is practically zero, indicating that the two traits can evolve independently of each other. Interestingly, we find that the heritability of BMR in our population (h^2=0.45) is markedly higher than was previously reported for a captive zebra finch population from Norway. A comparison of the two studies shows that additive genetic variance in BMR has been largely depleted in the Norwegian population, especially the genetic variance in BMR that is independent of body mass. In our population the slope of BMR increase with body mass differs not only between the sexes but also between the six selection lines, which we tentatively attribute to genetic drift and/or founder effects being strong in small populations. Our study therefore highlights two things. Firstly, the evolvability of BMR may be less constrained by genetic correlations and lack of independent genetic variation than previously described. Secondly, genetic drift in small populations can rapidly lead to different evolvabilities across populations.

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