Reconciling strong stabilizing selection with the maintenance of genetic variation in a natural population of black field crickets (Teleogryllus commodus)

John Hunt, Mark W Blows, Felix Zajitschek, Michael Jennions, Robert C. Brooks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

57 Citations (Scopus)


Genetic variation in single traits, including those closely related to fitness, is pervasive and generally high. By contrast, theory predicts that several forms of selection, including stabilizing selection, will eliminate genetic variation. Stabilizing selection in natural populations tends to be stronger than that assumed in theoretical models of the maintenance of genetic variation. The widespread presence of genetic variation in the presence of strong stabilizing selection is a persistent problem in evolutionary genetics that currently has no compelling explanation. The recent insight that stabilizing selection often acts most strongly on trait combinations via correlational selection may reconcile this problem. Here we show that for a set of male call properties in the cricket Teleogryllus commodus, the pattern of multivariate stabilizing sexual selection is closely associated with the degree of additive genetic variance. The multivariate trait combinations experiencing the strongest stabilizing selection harbored very little genetic variation while combinations under weak selection contained most of the genetic variation. Our experiment provides empirical support for the prediction that a small number of trait combinations experiencing strong stabilizing selection will have reduced genetic variance and that genetically independent trait combinations experiencing weak selection can simultaneously harbor much higher levels of genetic variance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)875–880
Number of pages6
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2007
Externally publishedYes

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