Most quantitative traits are thought to exhibit high levels of genetic variance and evolutionary potential. However, this conclusion may be biased by a lack of studies on nonmodel organisms and may not generalize to restricted species. A recent study on a single, southern population of the rainforest-restricted Drosophila birchii failed to find significant additive genetic variance for the desiccation resistance trait; however, it is unclear whether this pattern extends to other D. birchii populations or to other rainforest species. Here we use an animal model design to show very low levels of additive genetic variance for desiccation resistance in multiple populations of two highly sensitive rainforest species of Drosophila from tropical northeastern Australia. In contrast, relatively high levels of genetic variance were found for morphological traits in all populations of the species tested. This indicates limited evolutionary potential for evolving increased desiccation resistance in these rainforest restricted species.
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Vol. 60 • No. 5