, Volume 30, Issue 3, pp 227-237

Genetic analysis of shell-shape variation in Littorina saxatilis on an environmental cline

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Three shell-shape parameters of Littorina saxatilis were measured and found to vary in a regular pattern with distance up an estuary. The translation rate of the shell increased, the rate of whorl expansion decreased and the circularity of the aperture decreased proceeding from the exposed shore to the protected shore. The genetic variance of these traits was estimated from the full-sib covariance and the motheroffspring covariance. The genetic variance of the translation rate and the circularity of the aperture was low in all populations, but the genetic variance of the rate of whorl expansion was high on the exposed shore and low on the protected shore. It is argued that the change in mean phenotype of these traits is the result of natural selection produced by varying degrees of wave action and desiccation. The observed genetic variance is consistent with the theory that a trait under selection will show little additive genetic variance.

Communicated by T.R. Parsons, Vancouver