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Measuring Selection on Reaction Norms: An Exploration of the Eurosta-solidago System

Arthur E. Weis and Wendy L. Gorman
Evolution
Vol. 44, No. 4 (Jul., 1990), pp. 820-831
DOI: 10.2307/2409548
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2409548
Page Count: 12
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Abstract

The sensitivity of genotypic expression to the environment can be depicted as the reaction norm, which is defined as the array of phenotypes produced by a single genotype over a range of environments. We studied selection on reaction norms of the gall-inducing insect Eurosta solidaginis (Diptera; Tephritidae), which attacks tall goldenrod Solidago altissima (Compositae). Gall size was treated as a component of insect phenotype and attributes of the host plant as environmental influences on gall development. Genetic differences in the response of gall size to plant lag time (the number of days before a plant responds to the gall maker) were examined. Reaction norms for full-sib families of flies were quantified as linear functions; the elevation of the function denoted gall size produced by the family averaged across all plants, and the function's slope denoted family sensitivity to lag time. Expected fitness of each family was regressed over reaction norm elevation and slope to yield selection gradients on these reaction norm parameters. Directional selection on gall size averaged across environments is four times stronger than selection on sensitivity. Yet, genetic variation for sensitivity contributes more than twice as much to gall phenotypic variance as family mean gall size. Our results suggest that selection on environmental sensitivity will be weak for populations restricted to a narrow segment of an environmental gradient, but strong for broadly distributed species.

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