Adaptive divergence in moor frog (Rana arvalis) populations along an acidification gradient: inferences from QST-FST correlations

Sandra Bettina Hangartner, Anssi Laurila, Katja Johanna Rasanen

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Microevolutionary responses to spatial variation in the environment seem ubiquitous, but the relative role of selection and neutral processes in driving phenotypic diversification remain often unknown. The moor frog (Rana arvalis) shows strong phenotypic divergence along an acidification gradient in Sweden. We here used correlations among population pairwise estimates of quantitative trait (P ST or Q ST from common garden estimates of embryonic acid tolerance and larval life-history traits) and neutral genetic divergence (F ST from neutral microsatellite markers), as well as environmental differences (pond pH, predator density, and latitude), to test whether this phenotypic divergence is more likely due to divergent selection or neutral processes. We found that trait divergence was more strongly correlated with environmental differences than the neutral marker divergence, suggesting that divergent natural selection has driven phenotypic divergence along the acidification gradient. Moreover, pairwise P STs of embryonic acid tolerance and Q STs of metamorphic size were strongly correlated with breeding pond pH, whereas pairwise Q STs of larval period and growth rate were more strongly correlated with geographic distance/latitude and predator density, respectively. We suggest that incorporating measurements of environmental variation into Q ST-F ST studies can improve our inferential power about the agents of natural selection in natural populations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)867 - 881
Number of pages15
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes

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