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A Comparison of Genetic and Phenotypic Correlations

James M. Cheverud
Evolution
Vol. 42, No. 5 (Sep., 1988), pp. 958-968
DOI: 10.2307/2408911
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2408911
Page Count: 11
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
A Comparison of Genetic and Phenotypic Correlations
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Abstract

Genetic variances and correlations lie at the center of quantitative evolutionary theory. They are often difficult to estimate, however, due to the large samples of related individuals that are required. I investigated the relationship of genetic- and phenotypic-correlation magnitudes and patterns in 41 pairs of matrices drawn from the literature in order to determine their degree of similarity and whether phenotypic parameters could be used in place of their genetic counterparts in situations where genetic variances and correlations cannot be precisely estimated. The analysis indicates that squared genetic correlations were on average much higher than squared phenotypic correlations and that genetic and phenotypic correlations had only broadly similar patterns. These results could be due either to biological causes or to imprecision of genetic-correlation estimates due to sampling error. When only those studies based on the largest sample sizes (effective sample size of 40 or more) were included, squared genetic-correlation estimates were only slightly greater than their phenotypic counterparts and the patterns of correlation were strikingly similar. Thus, much of the dissimilarity between phenotypic- and genetic-correlation estimates seems to be due to imprecise estimates of genetic correlations. Phenotypic correlations are likely to be fair estimates of their genetic counterparts in many situations. These further results also indicate that genetic and environmental causes of phenotypic variation tend to act on growth and development in a similar manner.

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