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A test of Darwin's ‘lop-eared’ rabbit hypothesis

Cordero, Antonio LU and Berns, C. M. (2016) In Journal of Evolutionary Biology 29(11). p.2102-2110
Abstract

Integration of evolutionary and developmental biology has stimulated novel insights on the origins and maintenance of phenotypic variation. For instance, phenotypic accommodation predicts that trait covariance originates via a novel developmental input caused by genetic change in one trait, but not the other. Darwin provided a striking example of this process in the ‘lop-eared’ rabbit by demonstrating that artificial selection for long external ears induced variation in the external auditory meatus. Although this intriguing pattern has been interpreted as evidence of phenotypic accommodation, it is unclear whether it exists and, if it does, whether it is selectively maintained in nature. To address this concern, we examined trait... (More)

Integration of evolutionary and developmental biology has stimulated novel insights on the origins and maintenance of phenotypic variation. For instance, phenotypic accommodation predicts that trait covariance originates via a novel developmental input caused by genetic change in one trait, but not the other. Darwin provided a striking example of this process in the ‘lop-eared’ rabbit by demonstrating that artificial selection for long external ears induced variation in the external auditory meatus. Although this intriguing pattern has been interpreted as evidence of phenotypic accommodation, it is unclear whether it exists and, if it does, whether it is selectively maintained in nature. To address this concern, we examined trait covariance in natural woodrat populations that have likely undergone selection for long ears. We demonstrated a remarkably similar covariance pattern as in the ‘lop-eared’ rabbit, which was associated with climatic variables along a steep arid-to-moist longitudinal gradient. Thus, our results suggest that trait covariance is likely a correlated response to selection. We relate these findings to potential origins of trait covariance owing to altered developmental interactions, such as in phenotypic accommodation. Additional evidence is needed to clarify how phenotypic accommodation and correlated selection promote and maintain trait covariance in natural populations. Nonetheless, our study is the first to support a classic Darwinian example concerning domestication and natural selection.

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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
correlated selection, morphological integration, phenotypic accommodation, trait covariance
in
Journal of Evolutionary Biology
volume
29
issue
11
pages
9 pages
publisher
John Wiley & Sons
external identifiers
  • scopus:84979626561
  • wos:000388312300001
ISSN
1010-061X
DOI
10.1111/jeb.12938
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
b6335ed3-0266-4a31-b54b-8d15b3ebd2e3
date added to LUP
2016-11-21 09:50:25
date last changed
2017-09-18 11:30:53
@article{b6335ed3-0266-4a31-b54b-8d15b3ebd2e3,
  abstract     = {<p>Integration of evolutionary and developmental biology has stimulated novel insights on the origins and maintenance of phenotypic variation. For instance, phenotypic accommodation predicts that trait covariance originates via a novel developmental input caused by genetic change in one trait, but not the other. Darwin provided a striking example of this process in the ‘lop-eared’ rabbit by demonstrating that artificial selection for long external ears induced variation in the external auditory meatus. Although this intriguing pattern has been interpreted as evidence of phenotypic accommodation, it is unclear whether it exists and, if it does, whether it is selectively maintained in nature. To address this concern, we examined trait covariance in natural woodrat populations that have likely undergone selection for long ears. We demonstrated a remarkably similar covariance pattern as in the ‘lop-eared’ rabbit, which was associated with climatic variables along a steep arid-to-moist longitudinal gradient. Thus, our results suggest that trait covariance is likely a correlated response to selection. We relate these findings to potential origins of trait covariance owing to altered developmental interactions, such as in phenotypic accommodation. Additional evidence is needed to clarify how phenotypic accommodation and correlated selection promote and maintain trait covariance in natural populations. Nonetheless, our study is the first to support a classic Darwinian example concerning domestication and natural selection.</p>},
  author       = {Cordero, Antonio and Berns, C. M.},
  issn         = {1010-061X},
  keyword      = {correlated selection,morphological integration,phenotypic accommodation,trait covariance},
  language     = {eng},
  month        = {11},
  number       = {11},
  pages        = {2102--2110},
  publisher    = {John Wiley & Sons},
  series       = {Journal of Evolutionary Biology},
  title        = {A test of Darwin's ‘lop-eared’ rabbit hypothesis},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jeb.12938},
  volume       = {29},
  year         = {2016},
}