Genetic constraints on wing pattern variation in Lycaeides butterflies: A case study on mapping complex, multifaceted traits in structured populations

Molecular Ecology Resources
Lauren K LucasZachariah Gompert


Patterns of phenotypic variation within and among species can be shaped and constrained by trait genetic architecture. This is particularly true for complex traits, such as butterfly wing patterns, that consist of multiple elements. Understanding the genetics of complex trait variation across species boundaries is difficult, as it necessitates mapping in structured populations and can involve many loci with small or variable phenotypic effects. Here, we investigate the genetic architecture of complex wing pattern variation in Lycaeides butterflies as a case study of mapping multivariate traits in wild populations that include multiple nominal species or groups. We identify conserved modules of integrated wing pattern elements within populations and species. We show that trait covariances within modules have a genetic basis and thus represent genetic constraints that can channel evolution. Consistent with this, we find evidence that evolutionary changes in wing patterns among populations and species occur in the directions of genetic covariances within these groups. Thus, we show that genetic constraints affect patterns of biological diversity (wing pattern) in Lycaeides, and we provide an analytical template for similar work in...Continue Reading


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