Limited plasticity in the phenotypic variance-covariance matrix for male advertisement calls in the black field cricket,Teleogryllus commodus
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Phenotypic integration and plasticity are central to our understanding of how complex phenotypic traits evolve. Evolutionary change in complex quantitative traits can be predicted using the multivariate breeders' equation, but such predictions are only accurate if the matrices involved are stable over evolutionary time. Recent study, however, suggests that these matrices are temporally plastic, spatially variable and themselves evolvable. The data available on phenotypic variance-covariance matrix (P) stability are sparse, and largely focused on morphological traits. Here, we compared P for the structure of the complex sexual advertisement call of six divergent allopatric populations of the Australian black field cricket, Teleogryllus commodus. We measured a subset of calls from wild-caught crickets from each of the populations and then a second subset after rearing crickets under common-garden conditions for three generations. In a second experiment, crickets from each population were reared in the laboratory on high- and low-nutrient diets and their calls recorded. In both experiments, we estimated P for call traits and used multiple methods to compare them statistically (Flury hierarchy, geometric subspace comparisons and random skewers). Despite considerable variation in means and variances of individual call traits, the structure of P was largely conserved among populations, across generations and between our rearing diets. Our finding that P remains largely stable, among populations and between environmental conditions, suggests that selection has preserved the structure of call traits in order that they can function as an integrated unit.
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