Contrasting patterns of divergence in quantitative traits and neutral DNA markers: Analysis of clinal variation

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Clinal variation in quantitative traits is often attributed to the effects of spatially varying selection. However, identical patterns can be produced by the interplay between purely stochastic processes (i.e. drift in combination with spatially restricted gene flow). One means of distinguishing between adaptive and nonadaptive causes of geographical variation is to compare relative levels of between-population divergence in quantitative traits and neutral DNA markers. Such comparisons can be used to test whether levels of trait divergence attributable to additive genetic effects (as measured by QST) exceed null expectations based on the level of divergence at neutral marker loci (as measured by FST). The purpose of this study was to use an approach based on 'QST vs. FST' contrasts to test for evidence of diversifying selection on body size of an Indian fruit bat, Cynopterus sphinx (Chiroptera: Pteropodidae). Specifically, relative levels of between-population divergence in body size and microsatellite DNA markers were compared to assess whether the observed pattern of clinal size variation could be explained by a neutral model of isolation by distance. QST for body size was calculated using unbiased estimators of within- and between-population variance of principal component scores. The association between body size variation and geographical/environmental distance was tested using pairwise and partial matrix correspondence tests (MCTs). Independent variables (representing causal hypotheses) were constructed as between-locality distance matrices. The effects of neutral genetic divergence were assessed by including a matrix of pairwise FST as an independent variable. Partial MCTs revealed highly significant associations between phenotypic divergence (QST) and both geographical and environmental distance, even when the effects of neutral genetic divergence (FST) were partialled out. Results of the tests confirmed that migration-drift equilibrium is not a sufficient explanation for the latitudinal pattern of clinal size variation in C. sphinx. The geographical patterning of pairwise QST is most likely attributable to spatially varying selection and/or the direct influence of latitudinally ordered environmental effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2537-2551
Number of pages15
JournalMolecular Ecology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2002



  • Bats
  • Bergmann's rule
  • Cynopterus sphinx
  • Isolation by distance
  • Microsatellite DNA
  • Phenotypic divergence
  • Q

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Genetics

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