The evolutionary importance of postnatal ontogenies has long been recognized, but most studies of ontogenetic trajectories have focused exclusively on morphological traits. For animals, this represents a major omission because behavioral traits and their ontogenies often have relatively direct relationships to fitness. Here four replicate lines of house mice artificially selected for high early-age wheel running and their four replicate control lines were used to evaluate the effects of early-age directional selection, genetic drift, and activity environment (presence or absence of a running wheel) on variation in the ontogenies of three traits known to be genetically correlated: voluntary wheel running, body mass, and food consumption. Early-age selection significantly changed both the shape and position of the wheel-running and food-consumption ontogenies while influencing the position, but not the shape, of the body mass ontogeny. Genetic drift (as indicated by variation among replicate lines) produced significant changes in both the position and shape of all three ontogenies; however, its effect differed between the selection and control groups. For wheel running and food consumption, genetic drift only influenced the control ontogenies, whereas for body mass, genetic drift had a significant effect in both selection groups. Both body-mass and food-consumption ontogenies were significantly altered by activity environment, with the environment causing significant changes in the shape and position of both ontogenies. Overall the results demonstrate strong effects of early-age selection, genetic drift, and environmental variation on the evolution and expression of behavioral and morphological ontogenies, with selection changing only the position of the morphological ontogeny but both the position and shape of the behavioral ontogenies.
Vol. 57 • No. 3
Vol. 57 • No. 3