Stabilizing selection and adaptive evolution in a combination of two traits in an arctic ungulate
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionEvolution. 2020, 74 103-115. 10.1111/evo.13894
Stabilizing selection is thought to be common in wild populations and act as one of the main evolutionary mechanisms, which constrain phenotypic variation. When multiple traits interact to create a combined phenotype, correlational selection may be an important process driving adaptive evolution. Here, we report on phenotypic selection and evolutionary changes in two natal traits in a semidomestic population of reindeer (Rangifer tarandus) in northern Finland. The population has been closely monitored since 1969, and detailed data have been collected on individuals since they were born. Over the length of the study period (1969–2015), we found directional and stabilizing selection toward a combination of earlier birth date and heavier birth mass with an intermediate optimum along the major axis of the selection surface. In addition, we demonstrate significant changes in mean traits toward earlier birth date and heavier birth mass, with corresponding genetic changes in breeding values during the study period. Our results demonstrate evolutionary changes in a combination of two traits, which agree closely with estimated patterns of phenotypic selection. Knowledge of the selective surface for combinations of genetically correlated traits are vital to predict how population mean phenotypes and fitness are affected when environments change.