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Selection and inheritance of quantitative traits in the wild: maternal effects in a long-lived species


This project investigates ten genetic bases to liîe-nistory traits in birds, with an emphasis on the study of maternal effects, and the evolutionary response to selection. It will combine quantitative genetics and analyses of selection, in a long-term monitored population of mute swans (Cygnus lour). The study will make use of an exceptionally high quality data set collected since 1969 at Abbots bury in southern England, where the mute swan population offers great advantages such as high probability of re-sighting and long life span. The quantitative genetic analyses will be done using a novel ' animal model' approach for the partition of phenotypic variance thanks to collaborations with researchers from the EGI in Oxford and ICAPB in Edinburgh. Cross-fostering experiments will be conducted over two consecutive breeding seasons to test the influence of maternal effects on offspring life history, in combination with effects of maternal senescence. To my knowledge, this will be the first study, which estimates maternal effects on fitness traits outside of the laboratory. The objectives are
(i) to estimate quantitative genetic parameters and quantify selection on the morphological and reproductive traits;
(ii) to determine whether any response to selection on one trait might be constrained by selection on other characters;
(iii) to check for the consistency between the expected response to selection and the realised one;
(iv) to evaluate the extent to which maternal environment and behaviour influence offspring phenotype and fitness and finally
(v) to investigate the dependence of genetic determinism and maternal effects on senescence.

Call for proposal

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Funding Scheme

EIF - Marie Curie actions-Intra-European Fellowships


South Parks Road
United Kingdom