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Genetic and phenotypic associations in morphological traits: a long term study of great reed warblers Acrocephalus arundinaceus

  • Mikael Åkesson
  • Staffan Bensch
  • Dennis Hasselquist
Publishing year: 2007
Language: English
Pages: 58-72
Publication/Series: Journal of Avian Biology
Volume: 38
Issue: 1
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Federation of European Neuroscience Societies and Blackwell Publishing Ltd

Abstract english

We present estimates of standardized selection (directional and quadratic) differentials via reproductive success on eight morphological traits in a newly founded long-term study population of great reed warblers Acrocephalus arundinaceus in Sweden. In order to predict the evolutionary response to selection in these traits we present estimates of heritabilities (h(2)), phenotypic (r(P)) and genetic (r(A)) correlations among the same traits. We also examined the extent of parental effects in the expression of the phenotypic traits. Overall, the population is subject to low levels of directional selection and higher levels of stabilizing selection. This makes us predict that the population is changing very little if anything, even though h(2) in many cases are considerable. Midparent-midoffspring h(2) ranged from 0.14 and 0.94 (mean 0.58) and were significant for seven of eight traits. We found indications of positive maternal effects in tarsus length. Phenotypic correlations between traits ranged from 0.02 to 0.43 (mean 0.15) and showed generally much lower values than the corresponding genetic correlations that ranged between 0.08 and 1.04 (mean 0.46). Overall, the correlation between r(P) and r(A) was significant, although moderate, but they tended to differ in magnitude, possibly due to overestimation of additive covariance between traits.


  • Biological Sciences


  • Long-term study of great reed warblers
  • Molecular Ecology and Evolution Lab
  • ISSN: 0908-8857
Dennis Hasselquist
E-mail: dennis [dot] hasselquist [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se



+46 46 222 37 08



Research group


Doctoral students and postdocs

Research fellows


Jacob Roved

PhD Students, main supervisor

PhD Students, assistant supervisor


Interview about my research in the Swedish podcast "Forskarn & jag"