Lynch (1999) proposed a method for estimation of genetic correlations from phenotypic measurements of individuals for which no pedigree information is available. This method assumes that shared environmental effects do not contribute to the similarity of relatives, and it is expected to perform best when sample sizes are large, many individuals in the sample are paired with close relatives, and heritability of the traits is high. We tested the practicality of this method for field biologists by using it to estimate genetic correlations from measurements of field-caught waterstriders (Aquarius remigis). Results for sample sizes of less than 100 pairs were often unstable or undefined, and even with more than 500 pairs only half of those correlations that had been found to be significant in standard laboratory experiments were statistically significant in this study. Statistically removing the influence of environmental effects (shared between relatives) weakened the estimates, possibly by removing some of the genetic similarity between relatives. However, the method did generate statistically significant estimates for some genetic correlations. Lynch (1999) anticipated the problems found, and proposed another method that uses estimates of relatedness between members of pairs (from molecular marker data) to improve the estimates of genetic correlations, but that approach has yet to be tested in the field.
Corresponding Editor: K. Ross