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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 422:145-154 (2011)  -  DOI:

Heritability of morphological and life history traits in a pelagic tunicate

Carla M. Lobón1, José L. Acuña1,*, Marcos López-Álvarez1, Fabiana L. Capitanio2

1Departamento de Biología de Organismos y Sistemas, Universidad de Oviedo, Oviedo 33071, Spain
2CONICET, Departamento de Ciencias Biológicas, Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales, Universidad de Buenos Aires, C 1428 EHA Buenos Aires, Argentina
*Corresponding author. Email:

ABSTRACT: Populations may adapt in response to selection pressures imposed by global environmental change. In marine zooplankton, measurements of the heritability of key life history characters, and thus the potential for evolution, are still rare. Here we demonstrate the feasibility of conducting controlled mating experiments with the dioecious appendicularian Oikopleura dioica to explore the narrow-sense heritability and genetic correlation among morphological and life history traits. At our standard laboratory conditions (15 ± 1°C, 100 µg C l–1), mature females were larger (1.213 ± 0.19 mm, mean ± SD) and lived longer (8.5 ± 2.18 d) than did males (1.115 ± 0.15 mm, 7.6 ± 2.07 d). The heritability (±SE) of morphological characters was low (trunk size, 0.37 ± 0.25; house size, 0.39 ± 0.23) to moderate (tail length, 0.50 ± 0.31). In contrast, an important life history trait, lifespan, showed high heritability (0.89 ± 0.47) and may therefore respond rapidly to selection pressure, either in the laboratory or in the wild.

KEY WORDS: Life history traits · Individual variability · Heritability · Oikopleura dioica

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Cite this article as: Lobón CM, Acuña JL, López-Álvarez M, Capitanio FL (2011) Heritability of morphological and life history traits in a pelagic tunicate. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 422:145-154.

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