Variation in heritability of tadpole growth: an experimental analysis.
Uller T., Olsson M., Ståhlberg F.
Heritability characteristically shows large variation between traits, among populations and species, and through time. One of the reasons for this is its dependence on gene frequencies and how these are altered by selection and drift through the evolutionary process. We studied variation in heritability of tadpole growth rate in populations of the Swedish common frog, Rana temporaria. In populations evolving under warmer conditions, we have demonstrated elsewhere that tadpoles show better growth and physiological performance at relatively higher temperatures than tadpoles with an evolutionary history in a relatively cooler part of the distribution range. In the current study, we ask whether this process of divergence under natural selection has influenced the genetic architecture as visualised in estimates of heritability of growth rate at different temperature treatments under laboratory conditions. The results suggest that the additive genetic variance varies between treatments and is highest in a treatment that is common to both populations. Our estimates of narrow sense heritability are generally higher in the thermal regime that dominates in the natural environment. The reason for this appears not primarily to be because the component of additive genetic variation is higher in relation to the total phenotypic variation under these conditions, but because the part of the phenotypic variance explained by environmental variation increases at temperatures to which the current populations has been less frequently under selection.