Developmental Associations between Traits: Covariance and Beyond

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40 Scopus citations


Statistical associations between phenotypic traits often result from shared developmental processes and include both covariation between the trait values and more complex associations between higher moments of the joint distribution of traits. In this article, an analytical technique for calculating the covariance between traits is presented on the basis of (1) the distribution of underlying genetic and environmental variation that jointly influences the traits and (2) the mechanics of how these underlying factors influence the development of each trait. It is shown that epistasis can produce patterns of covariation between traits that are not seen in additive models. Applying this approach to a trait in parents and the same trait in their offspring allows us to study the consequences of epistasis for the evolution of additive genetic variance and heritability. This analysis is then extended to the study of more complicated associations between traits. It is shown that even traits that are not correlated may exhibit developmental associations that influence their joint evolution.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)513-526
Number of pages14
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2004

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