Theoretical quantitative genetics provides a framework for reconstructing past selection and predicting future patterns of phenotypic differentiation. However, the usefulness of the equations of quantitative genetics for evolutionary inference relies on the evolutionary stability of the additive genetic variance–covariance matrix (G matrix). A fruitful new approach for exploring the evolutionary dynamics of G involves the use of individual-based computer simulations. Previous studies have focused on the evolution of the eigenstructure of G. An alternative approach employed in this paper uses the multivariate response-to-selection equation to evaluate the stability of G. In this approach, I measure similarity by the correlation between response-to-selection vectors due to random selection gradients. I analyze the dynamics of G under several conditions of correlational mutation and selection. As found in a previous study, the eigenstructure of G is stabilized by correlational mutation and selection. However, over broad conditions, instability of G did not result in a decreased consistency of the response to selection. I also analyze the stability of G when the correlation coefficients of correlational mutation and selection and the effective population size change through time. To my knowledge, no prior study has used computer simulations to investigate the stability of G when correlational mutation and selection fluctuate. Under these conditions, the eigenstructure of G is unstable under some simulation conditions. Different results are obtained if G matrix stability is assessed by eigenanalysis or by the response to random selection gradients. In this case, the response to selection is most consistent when certain aspects of the eigenstructure of G are least stable and vice versa.
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Vol. 61 • No. 8