Measures of phenotypic selection are biased by partial inbreeding
When populations are partially inbred due to the population structure or to a mixed mating system like partial self-fertilization, some individuals will be more inbred than others. This heterogeneity among individuals in the history of inbreeding can greatly complicate the interpretation of measures of quantitative genetic variability when the traits studied exhibit inbreeding depression. Partial inbreeding can also bias measures of phenotypic selection toward the detection of strong directional and stabilizing selection. In this paper, data are presented from several inbreeding experiments conducted on two partially selfing, annual populations of the monkeyflower Mimulus guttatus thai show that the means of many of the morphological and phenological traits measured were affected by inbreeding. These findings imply that estimates of heritabilities and additive genetic covariances would not reflect the potential for these populations to respond to selection. Phenotypic selection analyses conducted on naturally occurring plants, involving linear regressions of relative seed production on the traits, revealed significant directional selection on many of the same quantitative traits measured in the inbreeding studies. However when the same selection analyses were performed on plants with known histories of inbreeding, part of the statistical relationship between relative seed number and the traits was found to be due to the mating system: inbred individuals had both lower seed production and different mean values for the traits than outcrossed individuals. It is also shown, with a hypothetical example, that partial inbreeding can bias measures of stabilizing selection toward the detection of strong stabilizing selection. Partial inbreeding therefore tends to make directional and stabilizing selection appear stronger than it is, and it may be that natural selection in the wild is actually weaker than many studies of partially inbred species suggest.
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