Natural Selection and Developmental Constraints in the Evolution of Allometries

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Science  04 Feb 2005:
Vol. 307, Issue 5710, pp. 718-720
DOI: 10.1126/science.1105409

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In animals, scaling relationships between appendages and body size exhibit high interspecific variation but low intraspecific variation. This pattern could result from natural selection for specific allometries or from developmental constraints on patterns of differential growth. We performed artificial selection on the allometry between forewing area and body size in a butterfly to test for developmental constraints, and then used the resultant increased range of phenotypic variation to quantify natural selection on the scaling relationship. Our results show that the short-term evolution of allometries is not limited by developmental constraints. Instead, scaling relationships are shaped by strong natural selection.

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