The role of indirect genetic effects in the evolution of interacting reproductive behaviors in the burying beetle, Nicrophorus vespilloides

Mauricio J. Carter, Alastair J. Wilson, Allen J. Moore, Nick J. Royle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Social interactions can give rise to indirect genetic effects (IGEs), which occur when genes expressed in one individual affect the phenotype of another individual. The evolutionary dynamics of traits can be altered when there are IGEs. Sex often involves indirect effects arising from first-order (current) or second-order (prior) social interactions, yet IGEs are infrequently quantified for reproductive behaviors. Here, we use experimental populations of burying beetles that have experienced bidirectional selection on mating rate to test for social plasticity and IGEs associated with focal males mating with a female either without (first-order effect) or with (second-order effect) prior exposure to a competitor, and resource defense behavior (first-order effect). Additive IGEs were detected for mating rate arising from (first-order) interactions with females. For resource defense behavior, a standard variance partitioning analysis provided no evidence of additive genetic variance—either direct or indirect. However, behavior was predicted by focal size relative to that of the competitor, and size is also heritable. Assuming that behavior is causally dependent on relative size, this implies that both DGEs and IGEs do occur (and may potentially interact). The relative contribution of IGEs may differ among social behaviors related to mating which has consequences for the evolutionary trajectories of multivariate traits.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)998-1009
Number of pages12
JournalEcology and Evolution
Volume9
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 1 Jan 2018

Keywords

  • indirect genetic effect
  • mating
  • mating system
  • resource defense
  • social plasticity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

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