Much diversity in animal morphology results from variation in the relative size of morphological traits. The scaling relationships, or allometries, that describe relative trait size can vary greatly in both intercept and slope among species or other animal groups. Yet within such groups, individuals typically exhibit low variation in relative trait size. This pattern of high intra- and low intergroup variation may result from natural selection for particular allometries, from developmental constraints restricting differential growth among traits, or both. Here we explore the relative roles of short-term developmental constraints and natural selection in the evolution of the intercept of the allometry between the forewing and hindwing of a butterfly. First, despite a strong genetic correlation between these two traits, we show that artificial selection perpendicular to the forewing-hindwing scaling relationship results in rapid evolution of the allometry intercept. This demonstrates an absence of developmental constraints limiting intercept evolution for this scaling relationship. Mating experiments in a natural environment revealed strong stabilizing selection favoring males with the wild-type allometry intercept over those with derived intercepts. Our results demonstrate that evolution of this component of the forewing-hindwing allometry is not limited by developmental constraints in the short term and that natural selection on allometry intercepts can be powerful.
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Vol. 61 • No. 12