Canadian Forest Service Publications

Differences in the phenotypic mean and variance between two geographically separated populations of wood frog (Lithobates sylvaticus). 2012. Edge, C.B.; Thompson, D.G.; Houlahan, J.E. Evolutionary Biology 40: 276–287..

Year: 2012

Issued by: Great Lakes Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 34646

Language: English

Availability: PDF (request by e-mail)

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Intraspecific phenotypic variation between populations separated by large geographic distances is common. Differences in the mean and variance of traits among populations can be used to infer the relative strength, direction, and type of selection on traits. Patterns in the mean provide information on the type of selection, and patterns in variance provide information on the strength of selection. However, interpretation of mean/variance patterns is difficult when two traits are linked and strongly correlated to fitness because it is unlikely that each trait will reach phenotypic optima. In amphibians time to metamorphosis and size at metamorphosis are positively related both phenotypically and genetically. Using a common-garden experiment we investigated whether selection favours shorter time to metamorphosis or increased mass at metamorphosis between two populations which differ in the length of the post-metamorphic growing season by 2–4 weeks. Animals from the population a shorter growing season took longer to reach and metamorphosed at a greater mass, while animals from the population with a longer period for post metamorphic growth reached metamorphosis faster, but at a smaller mass. Greater phenotypic variance was observed in both traits in the population with the shorter growing season. These data suggest that animals from the population with a restricted growth period maximise mass at metamorphosis at the expense of longer larval periods while animals from population with the longer post-metamorphic growth period sacrifice mass at metamorphosis to shorten the larval period and maximise larval survival. Differences in phenotypic variance among populations suggest either directional or diversifying selection has acted on both traits.