Publications by year
(In Press). A comment on the adaptive value of gluttony: predators mediate the life history trade-offs of satiation threshold by Pruitt & Krauel (2010). Journal of Evolutionary Biology
A comment on the adaptive value of gluttony: predators mediate the life history trade-offs of satiation threshold by Pruitt & Krauel (2010)
Inspection of the data that accompany Pruitt and Krauel's study of individual vari- ation in satiation threshold and a comparison of these data with the Materials and Methods and Results sections of the paper have revealed a number of issues that cast doubts on the reliability of the data and any results based on these data. In particular, we show that, following our analyses, the data are unlikely to have been obtained using the study design outlined in the publication and that statistical analyses of these data provide results that differ in important ways from those reported. These findings illustrate the importance of making raw data and analysis code available for the rigour and reproducibility of the scientific literature. Abstract
Blanckenhorn WU, Llaurens V, Reim C, Teuschl Y, Postma E
(In Press). Artificial selection on male size depletes genetic variance but not covariance of life history traits in the yellow dung fly.
Artificial selection on male size depletes genetic variance but not covariance of life history traits in the yellow dung fly
SUMMARYThe evolutionary potential of organisms depends on the presence of sufficient genetic variation for traits subject to selection, as well as on the genetic covariances among them. While genetic variation ultimately derives from mutation, theory predicts the depletion of genetic (co)variation under consistent directional or stabilizing selection in natural populations. We estimated and compared additive genetic (co)variances for several standard life history traits, including some for which this has never been assessed, before and after 24 generations of artificial selection on male size in the yellow dung flyScathophaga stercoraria(Diptera: Scathophagidae) using a series of standard half-sib breeding experiments. As predicted, genetic variances (VA), heritabilities (h2) and evolvabilities (IA) of body size, development time, first clutch size, and female age at first clutch were lower after selection. As independent selection lines were crossed prior to testing, we can rule out that this reduction is due to genetic drift. In contrast to the variances, and against expectation, the additive genetic correlations between the sexes for development time and body size remained strong and positive (rA =0.8–0.9), while the genetic correlation between these traits within the sexes tended to strengthen (but not significantly so). Our study documents that the effect of selection on genetic variance is predictable, whereas that on genetic correlations is not. Abstract
Timothée B, Peter W, Glauco C, Erik P
(In Press). Bigger is Fitter? Quantitative Genetic Decomposition of Selection Reveals an Adaptive Evolutionary Decline of Body Mass in a Wild Rodent Population.
Bigger is Fitter? Quantitative Genetic Decomposition of Selection Reveals an Adaptive Evolutionary Decline of Body Mass in a Wild Rodent Population
AbstractIn natural populations, quantitative trait dynamics often do not appear to follow evolutionary predictions: Despite abundant examples of natural selection acting on heritable traits, conclusive evidence for contemporary adaptive evolution remains rare for wild vertebrate populations, and phenotypic stasis seems to be the norm. This so-called ‘stasis paradox’ highlights our inability to predict evolutionary change, which is especially concerning within the context of rapid anthropogenic environmental change. While the causes underlying the stasis paradox are hotly debated, comprehensive attempts aiming at a resolution are lacking. Here we apply a quantitative genetic framework to individual-based long-term data for a wild rodent population and show that despite a positive association between body mass and fitness, there has been a genetic change towards lower body mass. The latter represents an adaptive response to viability selection favouring juveniles growing up to become relatively small adults, i.e. with a low potential adult mass, which presumably complete their development earlier. This selection is particularly strong towards the end of the snow-free season, and it has intensified in recent years, coinciding which a change in snowfall patterns. Importantly, neither the negative evolutionary change, nor the selective pressures that drive it, are apparent on the phenotypic level, where they are masked by phenotypic plasticity and a non-causal (i.e. non-genetic) positive association between body mass and fitness, respectively. Estimating selection at the genetic level thereby enabled us to uncover adaptive evolution in action, and to identify the corresponding phenotypic selective pressure. We thereby demonstrate that natural populations can show a rapid and adaptive evolutionary response to a novel selective pressure, and that explicitly (quantitative) genetic models are able to provide us with an understanding of the causes and consequences of selection that is superior to purely phenotypic estimates of selection and evolutionary change. Abstract
Bonnet T, Postma E (In Press). Fluctuating selection and its (elusive) evolutionary consequences in a wild rodent population. Journal of Evolutionary Biology
Brosnan S, Postma E (In Press). Humans as a model for understanding biological fundamentals. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 20172146-20172146.
(In Press). Limited mass-independent individual variation in resting metabolic rate in a wild population of snow voles (Chionomys nivalis). Journal of Evolutionary Biology
Limited mass-independent individual variation in resting metabolic rate in a wild population of snow voles (Chionomys nivalis)
Resting metabolic rate (RMR) is a potentially important axis of physiological adaptation to the thermal environment. However, our understanding of the causes and consequences of individual variation in RMR in the wild is hampered by a lack of data, as well as analytical challenges. RMR measurements in the wild are generally characterized by large measurement errors and a strong dependency on mass. The latter is problematic when assessing the ability of RMR to evolve independently of mass. Mixed models provide a powerful and flexible tool to tackle these challenges, but they have rarely been used to estimate repeatability of mass-independent RMR from field data. We used respirometry to obtain repeated measurements of RMR in a long-term study population of snow voles (Chionomys nivalis) inhabiting an environment subject to large circadian and seasonal fluctuations in temperature. Using both uni- and bivariate mixed models, we quantify individual repeatability in RMR and decompose repeatability into mass-dependent and mass-independent components, while accounting for measurement error. RMR varies among individuals, i.e. is repeatable (R=0.46), and strongly co-varies with BM. Indeed, much of the repeatability of RMR is attributable to individual variation in BM, and the repeatability of mass-independent RMR is reduced by 41% to R=0.27. These empirical results suggest that the evolutionary potential of RMR independent of mass may be severely constrained. This study illustrates how to leverage bivariate mixed models to model field data for metabolic traits, correct for measurement error, and decompose the relative importance of mass-dependent and mass- independent physiological variation. Abstract
Young EA, Chesterton E, Lummaa V, Postma E, Dugdale HL
(In Press). The long-lasting legacy of reproduction: lifetime reproductive success shapes expected genetic contributions of humans after ten generations.
The long-lasting legacy of reproduction: lifetime reproductive success shapes expected genetic contributions of humans after ten generations
ABSTRACTAn individual’s lifetime reproductive success (LRS) measures its realised genetic contributions to the next generation, but how well does it predict these over longer periods? Here we use human genealogical data to estimate expected individual genetic contributions (IGC) and quantify the degree to which LRS, relative to other fitness proxies, predicts IGC over longer periods in natural populations. This allows an identification of the life-history stages that are most important in shaping variation in IGC. We use historical genealogical data from two non-isolated local populations in Switzerland to estimate the stabilised IGC for 2,230 individuals ~10 generations after they were born. We find that LRS explains 30% less variation in IGC than the best predictor of IGC, the number of grandoffspring. However, albeit less precise than the number of grandoffspring, we show that LRS does provide an unbiased prediction of IGC and overall predicts IGC better than lifespan and similarly when accounting for offspring survival to adulthood. Overall, our findings demonstrate the value of human genealogy data to evolutionary biology and showing that reproduction - more than lifespan or offspring survival - impacts the long-term genetic contributions of historic humans, even in a population with appreciable migration. Abstract
Rickard IJ, Vullioud C, Rousset F, Postma E, Helle S, Lummaa V, Kylli R, Pettay JE, Røskaft E, Skjærvø GR, et al (2022). Author Correction: Mothers with higher twinning propensity had lower fertility in pre-industrial Europe. Nature Communications, 13(1).
Bonnet T, Morrissey MB, de Villemereuil P, Alberts SC, Arcese P, Bailey LD, Boutin S, Brekke P, Brent LJN, Camenisch G, et al
(2022). Genetic variance in fitness indicates rapid contemporary adaptive evolution in wild animals. Science
Genetic variance in fitness indicates rapid contemporary adaptive evolution in wild animals
The rate of adaptive evolution, the contribution of selection to genetic changes that increase mean fitness, is determined by the additive genetic variance in individual relative fitness. To date, there are few robust estimates of this parameter for natural populations, and it is therefore unclear whether adaptive evolution can play a meaningful role in short-term population dynamics. We developed and applied quantitative genetic methods to long-term datasets from 19 wild bird and mammal populations and found that, while estimates vary between populations, additive genetic variance in relative fitness is often substantial and, on average, twice that of previous estimates. We show that these rates of contemporary adaptive evolution can affect population dynamics and hence that natural selection has the potential to partly mitigate effects of current environmental change. Abstract
Postma E, Ziegler E, Matthes K, Floris J, Staub K
(2022). Health and lifespan of Swiss men born in an alpine region in 1905–1907. The History of the Family
Health and lifespan of Swiss men born in an alpine region in 1905–1907
Body height and body mass index (BMI) are associated with later life outcomes in present and historical populations. We examine the case study of the Swiss Alpine canton of Glarus, which was highly industrialised at the beginning of the 20th century. Our study links conscription registers to genealogical registers at the individual level in Switzerland for the first time. We analyse whether body height, BMI, socioeconomic position (HISCLASS), region of residence, fitness to serve (as a proxy for health status in a military context), and goitre status (as a proxy for iodine deficiency) in young adulthood are associated with lifespan. We transcribed conscription records of 1073 men born between 1905 and 1907 and recruited between 1925 and 1927 (coverage birth cohorts 96%). of the 827 young men residing within the canton, we were able to identify 635 (76.8%) in the cantonal genealogical register. Using body height, chest circumference, and upper arm circumference, we estimated BMI. We find socioeconomic differences for height and estimated BMI at conscription age. Young men with a recorded goitre were taller. We also present a positive association between body height and lifespan, with small men being particularly disadvantaged. In a small subsample of two municipalities, we estimated the heritability of height to be 65%. Abstract
Çilingir FG, Hansen D, Bunbury N, Postma E, Baxter R, Turnbull L, Ozgul A, Grossen C (2022). Low‐coverage reduced representation sequencing reveals subtle within‐island genetic structure in Aldabra giant tortoises. Ecology and Evolution, 12(3).
Rickard IJ, Vullioud C, Rousset F, Postma E, Helle S, Lummaa V, Kylli R, Pettay JE, Røskaft E, Skjærvø GR, et al
(2022). Mothers with higher twinning propensity had lower fertility in pre-industrial Europe. Nat Commun
Mothers with higher twinning propensity had lower fertility in pre-industrial Europe.
Historically, mothers producing twins gave birth, on average, more often than non-twinners. This observation has been interpreted as twinners having higher intrinsic fertility - a tendency to conceive easily irrespective of age and other factors - which has shaped both hypotheses about why twinning persists and varies across populations, and the design of medical studies on female fertility. Here we show in >20k pre-industrial European mothers that this interpretation results from an ecological fallacy: twinners had more births not due to higher intrinsic fertility, but because mothers that gave birth more accumulated more opportunities to produce twins. Controlling for variation in the exposure to the risk of twinning reveals that mothers with higher twinning propensity - a physiological predisposition to producing twins - had fewer births, and when twin mortality was high, fewer offspring reaching adulthood. Twinning rates may thus be driven by variation in its mortality costs, rather than variation in intrinsic fertility. Abstract
. Author URL
Callejas‐Díaz M, Chambel MR, San‐Martín‐Lorén J, Gea‐Izquierdo G, Santos‐Del‐Blanco L, Postma E, Climent JM (2022). The role of maternal age, growth, and environment in shaping offspring performance in an aerial conifer seed bank. American Journal of Botany, 109(3), 366-376.
Bowden-Parry M, Postma E, Boogert NJ
(2020). Effects of food type and abundance on begging and sharing in Asian small-clawed otters (Aonyx cinereus). PeerJ
Effects of food type and abundance on begging and sharing in Asian small-clawed otters (Aonyx cinereus)
Begging for food, a conspicuous solicitation display, is common in a variety of taxa, and it has received extensive research attention in a parent-offspring context. Both theoretical models and empirical evidence suggest that offspring begging can be an honest signal of hunger or a mediator of competition between siblings. At a behavioural mechanistic level, begging for food can be a form of harassment aimed at persuading those in possession of food to share. Food sharing, defined as the transfer of a defendable food item from one individual to another, can vary considerably between species, age-classes and food type and abundance. We investigated the determinants of begging and food-sharing behaviours in Asian small-clawed otters (Aonyx cinereus), a group-living species that commonly exhibits begging in captivity. We presented two captive otter populations with three food types that varied in exploitation complexity, in three different abundances. We predicted that begging rates would be highest when food was in lowest abundance and hardest to exploit, and that increased begging would lead to increased food sharing. We found that, over time, increased begging rates were indeed correlated with increased food transfers, but neither food type complexity nor abundance affected begging or sharing rates. However, age category was significantly associated with begging and food sharing rates: juvenile otters begged more and shared less than adult otters. The results from this first experimental study on begging and food sharing within the Mustelid family begin to reveal some of the drivers of these behaviours. Abstract
Evans SR, Postma E, Sheldon BC (2020). It takes two: Heritable male effects on reproductive timing but not clutch size in a wild bird population. Evolution, 74(10), 2320-2331.
Pick JL, Postma E, Tschirren B (2019). The more you get, the more you give: Positive cascading effects shape the evolutionary potential of prenatal maternal investment. Evolution Letters
Postma E, Evans S, Waldvogel D, Vasiljevic N
(2018). Heritable spouse effects increase evolutionary potential of human reproductive timing. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Heritable spouse effects increase evolutionary potential of human reproductive timing
Sexual reproduction is inherently interactive, especially in animal species such as humans that exhibit extended pair bonding. Yet we have little knowledge of the role of male characteristics and their evolutionary impact on reproductive behavioural phenotypes, to the extent that biologists typically consider component traits (e.g. reproductive timing) as female-specific. Based on extensive genealogical data detailing the life-histories of 6,435 human mothers born across four centuries of modern history, we use an animal modelling approach to estimate the indirect genetic effect of men on the reproductive phenotype of their partners. These analyses show that a woman’s reproductive timing (age at first birth) is influenced by her partner’s genotype. This indirect genetic effect is positively correlated with the direct genetic effect expressed in women, such that total heritable variance in this trait is doubled when heritable partner effects are considered. Our study thus suggests that much of the heritable variation in women’s reproductive timing is mediated via partner effects, and that the evolutionary potential of this trait is far greater than previously appreciated. Abstract
Bonnet T, Wandeler P, Camenisch G, Postma E
(2017). Bigger is Fitter? Quantitative Genetic Decomposition of Selection Reveals an Adaptive Evolutionary Decline of Body Mass in a Wild Rodent Population. PLoS Biol
Bigger is Fitter? Quantitative Genetic Decomposition of Selection Reveals an Adaptive Evolutionary Decline of Body Mass in a Wild Rodent Population.
In natural populations, quantitative trait dynamics often do not appear to follow evolutionary predictions. Despite abundant examples of natural selection acting on heritable traits, conclusive evidence for contemporary adaptive evolution remains rare for wild vertebrate populations, and phenotypic stasis seems to be the norm. This so-called "stasis paradox" highlights our inability to predict evolutionary change, which is especially concerning within the context of rapid anthropogenic environmental change. While the causes underlying the stasis paradox are hotly debated, comprehensive attempts aiming at a resolution are lacking. Here, we apply a quantitative genetic framework to individual-based long-term data for a wild rodent population and show that despite a positive association between body mass and fitness, there has been a genetic change towards lower body mass. The latter represents an adaptive response to viability selection favouring juveniles growing up to become relatively small adults, i.e. with a low potential adult mass, which presumably complete their development earlier. This selection is particularly strong towards the end of the snow-free season, and it has intensified in recent years, coinciding which a change in snowfall patterns. Importantly, neither the negative evolutionary change, nor the selective pressures that drive it, are apparent on the phenotypic level, where they are masked by phenotypic plasticity and a non causal (i.e. non genetic) positive association between body mass and fitness, respectively. Estimating selection at the genetic level enabled us to uncover adaptive evolution in action and to identify the corresponding phenotypic selective pressure. We thereby demonstrate that natural populations can show a rapid and adaptive evolutionary response to a novel selective pressure, and that explicitly (quantitative) genetic models are able to provide us with an understanding of the causes and consequences of selection that is superior to purely phenotypic estimates of selection and evolutionary change. Abstract
. Author URL
Kasper C, Kölliker M, Postma E, Taborsky B
(2017). Consistent cooperation in a cichlid fish is caused by maternal and developmental effects rather than heritable genetic variation. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Consistent cooperation in a cichlid fish is caused by maternal and developmental effects rather than heritable genetic variation
. Studies on the evolution of cooperative behaviour are typically confined to understanding its adaptive value. It is equally essential, however, to understand its potential to evolve, requiring knowledge about the phenotypic consistency and genetic basis of cooperative behaviour. While previous observational studies reported considerably high heritabilities of helping behaviour in cooperatively breeding vertebrates, experimental studies disentangling the relevant genetic and non-genetic components of cooperative behaviour are lacking. In a half-sibling breeding experiment, we investigated the repeatability and heritability of three major helping behaviours performed by subordinates of the cooperatively breeding fish
. Neolamprologus pulcher
. To experimentally manipulate the amount of help needed in a territory, we raised the fish in two environments differing in egg predation risk. All three helping behaviours were significantly repeatable, but had very low heritabilities. The high within-individual consistencies were predominantly due to maternal and permanent environment effects. The perceived egg predation risk had no effect on helping, but social interactions significantly influenced helping propensities. Our results reveal that developmentally plastic adjustments of provided help to social context shape cooperative phenotypes, whereas heritable genetic variation plays a minor role.
van Benthem KJ, Bruijning M, Bonnet T, Jongejans E, Postma E, Ozgul A
(2017). Disentangling evolutionary, plastic and demographic processes underlying trait dynamics: a review of four frameworks. Methods in Ecology and Evolution
Disentangling evolutionary, plastic and demographic processes underlying trait dynamics: a review of four frameworks
Biologists are increasingly interested in decomposing trait dynamics into underlying processes, such as evolution, plasticity and demography. Four important frameworks that allow for such a decomposition are the quantitative genetic animal model (AM), the ‘Geber’ method (GM), the age-structured Price equation (APE) and the integral projection model (IPM). However, as these frameworks have largely been developed independently, they differ in the assumptions they make, the data they require, as well as their outcomes and interpretation. Here, we evaluate how each framework decomposes trait dynamics into underlying processes. To do so, we apply them to simulated data for a hypothetical animal population. Individual body size was affected by, among others, genes, maternal effects and food intake. We simulated scenarios with and without selection on body size and with high and low heritability. The APE and IPM provided similar results, as did the AM and GM, with important differences between the former and the latter. All frameworks detected positive contributions of selection in the high but not in the low selection scenarios. However, only the AM and GM distinguished between the high and low heritability scenarios. Furthermore, the AM and GM revealed a high contribution of plasticity. The APE and IPM attributed most of the change in body size to ontogenetic growth and inheritance, where the latter captures the combined effects of plasticity, maternal effects and heritability. We show how these apparent discrepancies are mostly due to differences in aims and definitions. For example, the APE and IPM capture selection, whereas the AM and GM focus on the response to selection. Furthermore, the frameworks differ in the processes that are ascribed to plasticity and in how they take into account demography. We conclude that no single framework provides the ‘true’ contributions of evolution, plasticity and demography. Instead, different research questions require different frameworks. A thorough understanding of the different definitions of their components is necessary for selecting the most appropriate framework for the question at hand and for making biologically meaningful inferences. This work thus supports both future analysis and the careful interpretation of existing work. Abstract
Nietlisbach P, Keller LF, Camenisch G, Guillaume F, Arcese P, Reid JM, Postma E
(2017). Pedigree-based inbreeding coefficient explains more variation in fitness than heterozygosity at 160 microsatellites in a wild bird population. Proc Biol Sci
Pedigree-based inbreeding coefficient explains more variation in fitness than heterozygosity at 160 microsatellites in a wild bird population.
Although the pedigree-based inbreeding coefficient F predicts the expected proportion of an individual's genome that is identical-by-descent (IBD), heterozygosity at genetic markers captures Mendelian sampling variation and thereby provides an estimate of realized IBD. Realized IBD should hence explain more variation in fitness than their pedigree-based expectations, but how many markers are required to achieve this in practice remains poorly understood. We use extensive pedigree and life-history data from an island population of song sparrows (Melospiza melodia) to show that the number of genetic markers and pedigree depth affected the explanatory power of heterozygosity and F, respectively, but that heterozygosity measured at 160 microsatellites did not explain more variation in fitness than F This is in contrast with other studies that found heterozygosity based on far fewer markers to explain more variation in fitness than F Thus, the relative performance of marker- and pedigree-based estimates of IBD depends on the quality of the pedigree, the number, variability and location of the markers employed, and the species-specific recombination landscape, and expectations based on detailed and deep pedigrees remain valuable until we can routinely afford genotyping hundreds of phenotyped wild individuals of genetic non-model species for thousands of genetic markers. Abstract
. Author URL
Garcia-Navas V, Bonnet T, Waldvogel D, Camenisch G, Postma E
(2016). Consequences of natal philopatry for reproductive success and mate choice in an Alpine rodent. BEHAVIORAL ECOLOGY
(4), 1158-1166. Author URL
Nietlisbach P, Keller LF, Postma E
(2016). Genetic variance components and heritability of multiallelic heterozygosity under inbreeding. HEREDITY
(1), 1-11. Author URL
Becker PJJ, Hegelbach J, Keller LF, Postma E
(2016). Phenotype-associated inbreeding biases estimates of inbreeding depression in a wild bird population. JOURNAL OF EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGY
(1), 35-46. Author URL
Bonnet T, Postma E
(2016). Successful by Chance? the Power of Mixed Models and Neutral Simulations for the Detection of Individual Fixed Heterogeneity in Fitness Components. AMERICAN NATURALIST
(1), 60-74. Author URL
Garcia-Navas V, Bonnet T, Bonal R, Postma E
(2016). The role of fecundity and sexual selection in the evolution of size and sexual size dimorphism in New World and Old World voles (Rodentia: Arvicolinae). OIKOS
(9), 1250-1260. Author URL
(2016). Why we should not dismiss a relationship between attractiveness and performance: a comment on Smoliga & Zavorsky (2015). BIOLOGY LETTERS
(11). Author URL
Nietlisbach P, Camenisch G, Bucher T, Slate J, Keller LF, Postma E
(2015). A microsatellite-based linkage map for song sparrows (Melospiza melodia). MOLECULAR ECOLOGY RESOURCES
(6), 1486-1496. Author URL
Hoffmann J, Postma E, Schaub M
(2015). Factors influencing double brooding in Eurasian Hoopoes Upupa epops. IBIS
(1), 17-30. Author URL
Garcia-Navas V, Bonnet T, Waldvogel D, Wandeler P, Camenisch G, Postma E
(2015). Gene flow counteracts the effect of drift in a Swiss population of snow voles fluctuating in size. BIOLOGICAL CONSERVATION
, 168-177. Author URL
Becker PJJ, Reichert S, Zahn S, Hegelbach J, Massemin S, Keller LF, Postma E, Criscuolo F, Criscuolo O
(2015). Mother - offspring and nest-mate resemblance but no heritability in early-life telomere length in white-throated dippers. PROCEEDINGS OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY B-BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES
(1807). Author URL
(2014). A relationship between attractiveness and performance in professional cyclists. BIOLOGY LETTERS
(2). Author URL
Berger D, Postma E
(2014). Biased Estimates of Diminishing-Returns Epistasis? Empirical Evidence Revisited. GENETICS
(4), 1417-+. Author URL
Berger D, Postma E
(2014). Biased estimates of diminishing-returns epistasis? Empirical evidence revisited. Genetics
Biased estimates of diminishing-returns epistasis? Empirical evidence revisited
Empirical evidence for diminishing fitness returns of beneficial mutations supports Fisher’s geometric model. We show that a similar pattern emerges through the phenomenon of regression to the mean and that few studies correct for it. Although biases are often small, regression to the mean has overemphasized diminishing returns and will hamper cross-study comparisons unless corrected for. Abstract
Buerkli A, Postma E
(2014). GENETIC CONSTRAINTS UNDERLYING HUMAN REPRODUCTIVE TIMING IN a PREMODERN SWISS VILLAGE. EVOLUTION
(2), 526-537. Author URL
Tschirren B, Postma E, Gustafsson L, Groothuis TGG, Doligez B
(2014). Natural selection acts in opposite ways on correlated hormonal mediators of prenatal maternal effects in a wild bird population. Ecology Letters
Natural selection acts in opposite ways on correlated hormonal mediators of prenatal maternal effects in a wild bird population
Maternal hormones are important mediators of prenatal maternal effects. Although many experimental studies have demonstrated their potency in shaping offspring phenotypes, we know remarkably little about their adaptive value. Using long-term data on a wild collared flycatcher (Ficedula albicollis) population, we show that natural selection acts in opposite ways on two maternally derived androgens, yolk androstenedione (A4) and yolk testosterone (T). High yolk A4 concentrations are associated with higher fitness, whereas high yolk T concentrations are associated with lower fitness. Natural selection thus favours females that produce eggs with high A4 and low T concentrations. Importantly, however, there exists a positive (non-genetic) correlation between A4 and T, which suggests that females are limited in their ability to reach this adaptive optimum. Thereby, these results provide strong evidence for an adaptive value of differential maternal androgen deposition, and a mechanistic explanation for the maintenance of variation in maternal investment in the wild. Abstract
Wheelwright NT, Keller LF, Postma E
(2014). The effect of trait type and strength of selection on heritability and evolvability in an island bird population. EVOLUTION
(11), 3325-3336. Author URL
Postma E, Siitari H, Schwabl H, Richner H, Tschirren B
(2014). The multivariate egg: Quantifying within- and among-clutch correlations between maternally derived yolk immunoglobulins and yolk androgens using multivariate mixed models. Oecologia
The multivariate egg: Quantifying within- and among-clutch correlations between maternally derived yolk immunoglobulins and yolk androgens using multivariate mixed models
Egg components are important mediators of prenatal maternal effects in birds and other oviparous species. Because different egg components can have opposite effects on offspring phenotype, selection is expected to favour their mutual adjustment, resulting in a significant covariation between egg components within and/or among clutches. Here we tested for such correlations between maternally derived yolk immunoglobulins and yolk androgens in great tit (Parus major) eggs using a multivariate mixed-model approach. We found no association between yolk immunoglobulins and yolk androgens within clutches, indicating that within clutches the two egg components are deposited independently. Across clutches, however, there was a significant negative relationship between yolk immunoglobulins and yolk androgens, suggesting that selection has co-adjusted their deposition. Furthermore, an experimental manipulation of ectoparasite load affected patterns of covariance among egg components. Yolk immunoglobulins are known to play an important role in nestling immune defence shortly after hatching, whereas yolk androgens, although having growth-enhancing effects under many environmental conditions, can be immunosuppressive. We therefore speculate that variation in the risk of parasitism may play an important role in shaping optimal egg composition and may lead to the observed pattern of yolk immunoglobulin and yolk androgen deposition across clutches. More generally, our case study exemplifies how multivariate mixed-model methodology presents a flexible tool to not only quantify, but also test patterns of (co)variation across different organisational levels and environments, allowing for powerful hypothesis testing in ecophysiology. © 2013 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg. Abstract
Berger D, Postma E, Blanckenhorn WU, Walters RJ
(2013). QUANTITATIVE GENETIC DIVERGENCE AND STANDING GENETIC (CO)VARIANCE IN THERMAL REACTION NORMS ALONG LATITUDE. EVOLUTION
(8), 2385-2399. Author URL
Tschirren B, Postma E, Rutstein AN, Griffith SC
(2012). When mothers make sons sexy: maternal effects contribute to the increased sexual attractiveness of extra-pair offspring. Proc Biol Sci
When mothers make sons sexy: maternal effects contribute to the increased sexual attractiveness of extra-pair offspring.
Quality differences between offspring sired by the social and by an extra-pair partner are usually assumed to have a genetic basis, reflecting genetic benefits of female extra-pair mate choice. In the zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata), we identified a colour ornament that is under sexual selection and appears to have a heritable basis. Hence, by engaging in extra-pair copulations with highly ornamented males, females could, in theory, obtain genes for increased offspring attractiveness. Indeed, sons sired by extra-pair partners had larger ornaments, seemingly supporting the genetic benefit hypothesis. Yet, when comparing ornament size of the social and extra-pair partners, there was no difference. Hence, the observed differences most likely had an environmental basis, mediated, for example, via differential maternal investment of resources into the eggs fertilized by extra-pair and social partners. Such maternal effects may (at least partly) be mediated by egg size, which we found to be associated with mean ornament expression in sons. Our results are consistent with the idea that maternal effects can shape sexual selection by altering the genotype-phenotype relationship for ornamentation. They also caution against automatically attributing greater offspring attractiveness or viability to an extra-pair mate's superior genetic quality, as without controlling for differential maternal investment we may significantly overestimate the role of genetic benefits in the evolution of extra-pair mating behaviour. Abstract
. Author URL
Wilson AJ, Reale D, Clements MN, Morrissey MM, Postma E, Walling CA, Kruuk LEB, Nussey DH
(2011). An ecologist's guide to the animal model (vol 79, pg 13, 2010). JOURNAL OF ANIMAL ECOLOGY
(5), 1109-1109. Author URL
(2011). Comment on "Additive Genetic Breeding Values Correlate with the Load of Partially Deleterious Mutations". SCIENCE
(6047). Author URL
Postma E, Heinrich F, Koller U, Sardell RJ, Reid JM, Arcese P, Keller LF
(2011). Disentangling the effect of genes, the environment and chance on sex ratio variation in a wild bird population. PROCEEDINGS OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY B-BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES
(1720), 2996-3002. Author URL
Thueler K, Bussiere LF, Postma E, Ward PI, Blanckenhorn WU
(2011). Genetic and environmental sources of covariance among internal reproductive traits in the yellow dung fly. JOURNAL OF EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGY
(7), 1477-1486. Author URL
Postma E, Spyrou N, Rollins LA, Brooks RC
(2011). Sex-dependent selection differentially shapes genetic variation on and off the guppy Y chromosome. Evolution
Sex-dependent selection differentially shapes genetic variation on and off the guppy Y chromosome
Because selection is often sex-dependent, alleles can have positive effects on fitness in one sex and negative effects in the other, resulting in intralocus sexual conflict. Evolutionary theory predicts that intralocus sexual conflict can drive the evolution of sex limitation, sex-linkage, and sex chromosome differentiation. However, evidence that sex-dependent selection results in sex-linkage is limited. Here, we formally partition the contribution of Y-linked and non-Y-linked quantitative genetic variation in coloration, tail, and body size of male guppies (Poecilia reticulata)-traits previously implicated as sexually antagonistic. We show that these traits are strongly genetically correlated, both on and off the Y chromosome, but that these correlations differ in sign and magnitude between both parts of the genome. As predicted, variation in attractiveness was found to be associated with the Y-linked, rather than with the non-Y-linked component of genetic variation in male ornamentation. These findings show how the evolution of Y-linkage may be able to resolve sexual conflict. More generally, they provide unique insight into how sex-specific selection has the potential to differentially shape the genetic architecture of fitness traits across different parts of the genome. © 2011 the Author(s). Evolution © 2011 the Society for the Study of Evolution. Abstract
Wilson AJ, Réale D, Clements MN, Morrissey MM, Postma E, Walling CA, Kruuk LEB, Nussey DH
(2010). An ecologist's guide to the animal model. J Anim Ecol
An ecologist's guide to the animal model.
1. Efforts to understand the links between evolutionary and ecological dynamics hinge on our ability to measure and understand how genes influence phenotypes, fitness and population dynamics. Quantitative genetics provides a range of theoretical and empirical tools with which to achieve this when the relatedness between individuals within a population is known. 2. A number of recent studies have used a type of mixed-effects model, known as the animal model, to estimate the genetic component of phenotypic variation using data collected in the field. Here, we provide a practical guide for ecologists interested in exploring the potential to apply this quantitative genetic method in their research. 3. We begin by outlining, in simple terms, key concepts in quantitative genetics and how an animal model estimates relevant quantitative genetic parameters, such as heritabilities or genetic correlations. 4. We then provide three detailed example tutorials, for implementation in a variety of software packages, for some basic applications of the animal model. We discuss several important statistical issues relating to best practice when fitting different kinds of mixed models. 5. We conclude by briefly summarizing more complex applications of the animal model, and by highlighting key pitfalls and dangers for the researcher wanting to begin using quantitative genetic tools to address ecological and evolutionary questions. Abstract
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Postma E, Martini L, Martini P
(2010). Inbred women in a small and isolated Swiss village have fewer children. JOURNAL OF EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGY
(7), 1468-1474. Author URL
Tschirren B, Postma E
(2010). Quantitative genetics research in Zebra Finches: Where we are and where to go. Emu
Quantitative genetics research in Zebra Finches: Where we are and where to go
The ease with which Zebra Finches can be kept and bred in captivity makes them a suitable model for avian quantitative genetic studies. After a brief introduction to some quantitative genetic concepts, we here provide an up-to-date overview of quantitative genetic studies in Zebra Finches. We discuss what these studies can teach us about the evolutionary and behavioural ecology of Zebra Finches and song birds in general, and make suggestions for future research. Throughout this article we plead for a greater appreciation of the advantages offered by working on captive birds, but also discuss their limitations. Although quantitative genetic analyses in natural populations are becoming increasingly powerful, these studies lack the control possible in captivity. However, obtaining meaningful estimates of the type and strength of selection acting on phenotypic variation is more difficult in captivity. Hence, quantitative genetic studies in the wild and captivity each have their strengths and weaknesses and should be considered complementary rather than opposing. However, whereas quantitative genetic studies in the wild have boomed, the unique advantages offered by captive Zebra Finches have remained underexploited. Here we make a first attempt at changing this by highlighting what we believe may be fruitful lines for future research. © 2010 Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union. Abstract
Postma E, Den Tex R-J, Van Noordwijk AJ, Mateman AC
(2009). Neutral markers mirror small-scale quantitative genetic differentiation in an avian island population. BIOLOGICAL JOURNAL OF THE LINNEAN SOCIETY
(4), 867-875. Author URL
Postma E, Gienapp P
(2009). Origin-related differences in plumage coloration within an island population of great tits (Parus major). CANADIAN JOURNAL OF ZOOLOGY
(1), 1-7. Author URL
Tschirren B, Rutstein AN, Postma E, Mariette M, Griffith SC
(2009). Short- and long-term consequences of early developmental conditions: a case study on wild and domesticated zebra finches. J Evol Biol
Short- and long-term consequences of early developmental conditions: a case study on wild and domesticated zebra finches.
Divergent selection pressures among populations can result not only in significant differentiation in morphology, physiology and behaviour, but also in how these traits are related to each other, thereby driving the processes of local adaptation and speciation. In the Australian zebra finch, we investigated whether domesticated stock, bred in captivity over tens of generations, differ in their response to a life-history manipulation, compared to birds taken directly from the wild. In a 'common aviary' experiment, we thereto experimentally manipulated the environmental conditions experienced by nestlings early in life by means of a brood size manipulation, and subsequently assessed its short- and long-term consequences on growth, ornamentation, immune function and reproduction. As expected, we found that early environmental conditions had a marked effect on both short- and long-term morphological and life-history traits in all birds. However, although there were pronounced differences between wild and domesticated birds with respect to the absolute expression of many of these traits, which are indicative of the different selection pressures wild and domesticated birds were exposed to in the recent past, manipulated rearing conditions affected morphology and ornamentation of wild and domesticated finches in a very similar way. This suggests that despite significant differentiation between wild and domesticated birds, selection has not altered the relationships among traits. Thus, life-history strategies and investment trade-offs may be relatively stable and not easily altered by selection. This is a reassuring finding in the light of the widespread use of domesticated birds in studies of life-history evolution and sexual selection, and suggests that adaptive explanations may be legitimate when referring to captive bird studies. Abstract
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(2007). Inflated Impact Factors? the True Impact of Evolutionary Papers in Non-Evolutionary Journals. PLOS ONE
(10). Author URL
Postma E, Visser J, Van Noordwijk AJ
(2007). Strong artificial selection in the wild results in predicted small evolutionary change. JOURNAL OF EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGY
(5), 1823-1832. Author URL
Postma E, Charmantier A (2007). What ‘animal models’ can and cannot tell ornithologists about the genetics of wild populations. Journal of Ornithology, 148(S2), 633-642.
Postma E, Griffith SC, Brooks R (2006). Evolution of mate choice in the wild. Nature, 444(7121), E16-E16.
POSTMA E (2006). Implications of the difference between true and predicted breeding values for the study of natural selection and micro-evolution. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 19(2), 309-320.
(2006). Predicting breeding values for natural bird populations, and how this can help us to understand their evolution. Author URL
Gienapp P, Postma E, Visser ME (2006). WHY BREEDING TIME HAS NOT RESPONDED TO SELECTION FOR EARLIER BREEDING IN a SONGBIRD POPULATION. Evolution, 60(11), 2381-2381.
Postma E, van Noordwijk AJ (2005). GENETIC VARIATION FOR CLUTCH SIZE IN NATURAL POPULATIONS OF BIRDS FROM a REACTION NORM PERSPECTIVE. Ecology, 86(9), 2344-2357.
Postma E, van Noordwijk AJ (2005). Gene flow maintains a large genetic difference in clutch size at a small spatial scale. Nature, 433(7021), 65-68.
Edelaar P, Postma E, Knops P, Phillips R (2005). NO SUPPORT FOR a GENETIC BASIS OF MANDIBLE CROSSING DIRECTION IN CROSSBILLS (LOXIA SPP). The Auk, 122(4), 1123-1123.
Edelaar P, Piersma T, Postma E
(2005). Retained non-adaptive plasticity: gene flow or small inherent costs of plasticity?. EVOLUTIONARY ECOLOGY RESEARCH
(3), 489-495. Author URL
Nussey DH, Postma E, Gienapp P, Visser ME
(2005). Selection on Heritable Phenotypic Plasticity in a Wild Bird Population. Science
Selection on Heritable Phenotypic Plasticity in a Wild Bird Population
. Theoretical and laboratory research suggests that phenotypic plasticity can evolve under selection. However, evidence for its evolutionary potential from the wild is lacking. We present evidence from a Dutch population of great tits (
. Parus major
. ) for variation in individual plasticity in the timing of reproduction, and we show that this variation is heritable. Selection favoring highly plastic individuals has intensified over a 32-year period. This temporal trend is concurrent with climate change causing a mismatch between the breeding times of the birds and their caterpillar prey. Continued selection on plasticity can act to alleviate this mismatch.
Postma E, Van Hooft WF, Van Wieren SE, Van Breukelen L (2001). MICROSATELLITE VARIATION IN DUTCH ROE DEER (CAPREOLUS CAPREOLUS) POPULATIONS. Netherlands Journal of Zoology, 51(1), 85-95.