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Heritability of body mass in sexually monomorphic animals

PI(s): Erica Tennenhouse (University of Toronto (CANADA))
Start Date: 15-Jan-2014
End Date: 8-Mar-2014
Keywords: evolutionary genetics, natural selection, adaptation, morphology

Fisher’s fundamental theorem of natural selection predicts that traits associated with fitness generally have low heritable variation. Heritability estimates therefore provide a means of testing the strength with which selection has acted on traits. For many animal taxa, body size is considered a fitness-related trait. While most primates are sexually dimorphic in body size, members of the Lemuriformes infraorder exhibit sexual size monomorphism (SSM). In order to determine the mechanisms underlying the evolution of SSM in this taxonomic group, I will compare heritability estimates of body mass in males and females of one Lemuriformes species, ring-tailed lemurs (Lemur catta), which will provide insight into how the strength of selection on body mass has differed between males and females. I will use available pedigree information and data on body mass that have been collected for a large number of individuals. This project will combine morphology and quantitative genetics in order to better understand the evolution of SSM in a group of primates.