Letter | Published:

Heritability of external morphology in Darwin's finches

Nature volume 274, pages 793794 (24 August 1978) | Download Citation

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Abstract

ECOLOGISTS use measurements of avian morphological characters to test and modify evolutionary theories. But virtually nothing is known about the inheritance of such characters, although the theories are usually based on genetic models. As a result, either implicitly or explicitly, avian ecologists have used the terms phenotype and genotype almost interchangeably1. At the same time, theoreticians have assumed in their calculations that heritabilities are equal to one2. This problem is particularly acute when intraspecific variation itself is the focus of attention, as it is in studies of the niche-variation hypothesis1. We show here that several ecologically significant characters have high heritabilities in Darwin's medium ground finch (Geospiza fortis).

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Author information

Author notes

    • PETER R. GRANT

    Present address: Division of Biological Sciences, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109.

Affiliations

  1. Biology Department, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada H3A 1B1

    • PETER T. BOAG
    •  & PETER R. GRANT

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/274793a0

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