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F. Hendrickx, J. Maelfait, and L. Lens (2008)

Effect of metal stress on life history divergence and quantitative genetic architecture in a wolf spider

Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 21(1):183-193.

Effects and consequences of stress exposure on life history strategies and quantitative genetic variation in wild populations remain poorly understood. We here study whether long-term exposure to heavy metal pollution may result in alternative life history strategies and alter quantitative genetic properties in natural populations of the wolf spider Pirata piraticus. Offspring originating from a reference and a metal contaminated population and their reciprocal hybrid cross were bred in a half-sib mating scheme and subsequently reared in cadmium contaminated vs. clean environment. Results from this experiment provided evidence for a genetically based reduced growth rate and increased egg size in the contaminated population. Growth rate reduction in response to cadmium contamination was only observed for the reference population. Animal model analysis revealed that heritability for growth rate was large for the reference population under reference conditions, but much lower under metal stressed conditions, caused by a strong decrease in additive genetic variance. Heritability for growth of the metal contaminated population was very low, even under reference conditions. Initial size of the offspring was primarily determined by maternal effects, whereas egg size produced by the offspring was determined by both sire and dam effects, indicating that egg size determination is under control of the female genotype. In conclusion, these results show that metal stress can not only affect life history variation in natural populations, but also decreases the expression as well as the of the amount of genetic variation for particular life history traits.

Hendrickx, F. Maelfait, J. -P. Lens, L.

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