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Skjaervo G.R.,Norwegian University of Science and Technology | Bongard T.,Norwegian Institute for Nature Research | Viken A.,Norwegian biodiversity information Center | Stokke B.G.,Norwegian University of Science and Technology | And 3 more authors.
Evolution and Human Behavior | Year: 2011

Wealth and status covary with lifetime reproductive success in preindustrial human populations. Local ecology is likely to modify this association, but details of this presumed relationship are not yet known. We sought to determine whether local ecology modifies the relationship between status and fitness (number of grandchildren). Our approach to the problem was to measure variation in fitness relative to status (landless or with land) and to local ecology (inland versus coastal communities). We also analyzed life history traits that might explain observed variations in fitness. Our results confirm previous findings that both status (landless=9.9 vs. with land=16.5) and ecology (inland=12.3 vs. coast=14.1) affect the number of grandchildren produced by a female in pre-industrial society. We also found that the differences in number of children between the status groups were less pronounced on the coast (landless=12.0 vs. with land=16.1) than inland (landless=7.8 vs. with land=16.8). Our findings are novel because they suggest that the fitness consequences of human status may depend on details of local ecology. We discuss four different mechanisms that could account for these fitness differences: (1) differential reproductive rate of mothers, (2) differential marriage rate of children (3) differential survival rate of children, and (4) different social practices (breastfeeding, inheritance of property and diet). © 2011.


Billing A.M.,Norwegian University of Science and Technology | Lee A.M.,Norwegian University of Science and Technology | Skjelseth S.,Norwegian University of Science and Technology | Skjelseth S.,Norwegian Biodiversity Information Center | And 8 more authors.
Molecular Ecology | Year: 2012

Inbreeding is common in small and threatened populations and often has a negative effect on individual fitness and genetic diversity. Thus, inbreeding can be an important factor affecting the persistence of small populations. In this study, we investigated the effects of inbreeding on fitness in a small, wild population of house sparrows (Passer domesticus) on the island of Aldra, Norway. The population was founded in 1998 by four individuals (one female and three males). After the founder event, the adult population rapidly increased to about 30 individuals in 2001. At the same time, the mean inbreeding coefficient among adults increased from 0 to 0.04 by 2001 and thereafter fluctuated between 0.06 and 0.10, indicating a highly inbred population. We found a negative effect of inbreeding on lifetime reproductive success, which seemed to be mainly due to an effect of inbreeding on annual reproductive success. This resulted in selection against inbred females. However, the negative effect of inbreeding was less strong in males, suggesting that selection against inbred individuals is at least partly sex specific. To examine whether individuals avoided breeding with close relatives, we compared observed inbreeding and kinship coefficients in the population with those obtained from simulations of random mating. We found no significant differences between the two, indicating weak or absent inbreeding avoidance. We conclude that there was inbreeding depression in our population. Despite this, birds did not seem to actively avoid mating with close relatives, perhaps as a consequence of constraints on mating possibilities in such a small population. © 2012 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.


Bolstad G.H.,Norwegian University of Science and Technology | labon C.P.,Norwegian University of Science and Technology | Larsen L.-K.,Norwegian Biodiversity Information Center | Fleming I.A.,Memorial University of Newfoundland | And 2 more authors.
Ecology and Evolution | Year: 2012

Sexually selected traits are expected to evolve to a point where their positive effect on reproductive success is counterbalanced by their negative effect on survival. At the genetic level, such a trade-off implies antagonistic pleiotropy between survival and the expression of sexually selected traits. Yet, the consequences of such a genetic architecture have been largely overlooked in studies examining how inbreeding influences sexually selected traits. These studies have solely interpreted their results as an effect of increased homozygosity. An alternative, however, is that purging of recessive alleles deleterious for survival when inbreeding increases can negatively affect the expression of sexually selected traits through antagonistic pleiotropy. We tested this hypothesis by analyzing the effects of inbreeding on several male ornaments and life-history traits across 20 captive populations of guppies (Poecilia reticulata) with varying levels of inbreeding. Only one ornament, orange area, decreased in its expression with an increasing level of inbreeding. This was most likely due to purging because we found no within-population relationship between orange area and the inbreeding coefficient.We further tested this hypothesis by crossing unrelated individuals fromthe four most inbred populations, creating a group of individuals with purged genomes but restored heterozygosity. Restoration of heterozygosity only slightly increased orange area, confirming that the decrease in orange area in the inbred populations most likely resulted from purging. These results support previous studies suggesting the existence of antagonistic pleiotropy between ornament expression and survival. © 2012 The Authors.


Pelabon C.,Norwegian University of Science and Technology | Larsen L.-K.,Norwegian University of Science and Technology | Larsen L.-K.,Norwegian Biodiversity Information Center | Bolstad G.H.,Norwegian University of Science and Technology | And 3 more authors.
Journal of Evolutionary Biology | Year: 2014

Sexual selection is often prevented during captive breeding in order to maximize effective population size and retain genetic diversity. However, enforcing monogamy and thereby preventing sexual selection may affect population fitness either negatively by preventing the purging of deleterious mutations or positively by reducing sexual conflicts. To better understand the effect of sexual selection on the fitness of small populations, we compared components of female fitness and the expression of male secondary sexual characters in 19 experimental populations of guppies (Poecilia reticulata) maintained under polygamous or monogamous mating regimes over nine generations. In order to generate treatments that solely differed by their level of sexual selection, the middle-class neighbourhood breeding design was enforced in the monogamous populations, while in the polygamous populations, all females contributed similarly to the next generation with one male and one female offspring. This experimental design allowed potential sexual conflicts to increase in the polygamous populations because selection could not operate on adult-female traits. Clutch size and offspring survival showed a weak decline from generation to generation but did not differ among treatments. Offspring size, however, declined across generations, but more in monogamous than polygamous populations. By generation eight, orange- and black-spot areas were larger in males from the polygamous treatment, but these differences were not statistically significant. Overall, these results suggest that neither sexual conflict nor the purging of deleterious mutation had important effects on the fitness of our experimental populations. However, only few generations of enforced monogamy in a benign environment were sufficient to negatively affect offspring size, a trait potentially crucial for survival in the wild. Sexual selection may therefore, under certain circumstances, be beneficial over enforced monogamy during captive breeding. © 2014 European Society For Evolutionary Biology.

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