Understanding the utility and limitations of molecular markers for predicting the evolutionary potential of natural populations is important for both evolutionary and conservation genetics. To address this issue, the distribution of genetic variation for quantitative traits and molecular markers is estimated within and among 14 permanent lake populations of Daphnia pulicaria representing two regional groups from Oregon. Estimates of population subdivision for molecular and quantitative traits are concordant, with QST generally exceeding GST. There is no evidence that microsatellites loci are less informative about subdivision for quantitative traits than are allozyme loci. Character-specific comparison of QST and GST support divergent selection pressures among populations for the majority of life-history traits in both coast and mountain regions. The level of within-population variation for molecular markers is uninformative as to the genetic variation maintained for quantitative traits. In D. pulicaria, regional differences in the frequency of sex may contribute to variation in the maintenance of expressed within-population quantitative-genetic variation without substantially impacting diversity at the genic level. These data are compared to an identical dataset for 17 populations of the temporary-pond species, D. pulex.
Corresponding Editor: C. López-Fanjul