Long-term phenotypic evolution can be modeled using the response-to-selection equation of quantitative genetics, which incorporates information about genetic constraints (the G matrix). However, little is known about the evolution of G and about its long-term importance in constraining phenotypic evolution. We first investigated the degree of conservation of the G matrix across three species of crickets and qualitatively compared the pattern of variation of G to the phylogeny of the group. Second, we investigated the effect of G on phenotypic evolution by comparing the direction of greatest quantitative genetic variation within species (gmax) to the direction of phenotypic divergence between species (Δz̄). Each species, Gryllus veletis, G. firmus, and G. pennsylvanicus, was reared in the laboratory using a full-sib breeding design to extract quantitative genetic information. Five morphological traits related to size were measured. G matrices were compared using three statistical approaches: the T method, the Flury hierarchy, and the MANOVA method. Results revealed that the differences between matrices were small and mostly caused by differences in the magnitude of the genetic variation, not by differences in principal component structure. This suggested that the G matrix structure of this group of species was preserved, despite significant phenotypic divergence across species. The small observed differences in G matrices across species were qualitatively consistent with genetic distances, whereas ecological information did not provide a good prediction of G matrix variation. The comparison of gmax and Δz̄ revealed that the angle between these two vectors was small in two of three species comparisons, whereas the larger angle corresponding to the third species comparison was caused in large part by one of the five traits. This suggests that multivariate phenotypic divergence occurred mostly in a direction predicted by the direction of greatest genetic variation, although it was not possible to demonstrate the causal relationship from G to Δz̄. Overall, this study provided some support for the validity of the predictive power of quantitative genetics over evolutionary time scales.
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Vol. 57 • No. 5