Genetic variation in response to an indirect ecological effect

Philip A. Astles, Allen J. Moore, Richard F. Preziosi

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Indirect ecological effects (IEEs) are widespread and often as strong as the phenotypic effects arising from direct interactions in natural communities. Indirect effects can influence competitive interactions, and are thought to be important selective forces. However, the extent that selection arising from IEEs results in long-term evolutionary change depends on genetic variation underlying the phenotypic response-that is, a genotype-by-IEE interaction. We provide the first data on genetic variation in the response of traits to an IEE, and illustrate how such genetic variation might be detected and analysed. We used a model tri-trophic system to investigate the effect of host plants on two populations of predatory ladybirds through a clonal aphid herbivore. A split-family experimental design allowed us to estimate the effects of aphid host plant on ladybird traits (IEE) and the extent of genetic variation in ladybird predators for response to these effects (genotype-by-indirect environmental effect interaction). We found significant genetic variation in the response of ladybird phenotypes to the indirect effect of host plant of their aphid prey, demonstrating the potential for evolutionary responses to selection arising from the prey host. © 2005 The Royal Society.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)2577-2581
    Number of pages4
    JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
    Issue number1581
    Publication statusPublished - 22 Dec 2005


    • Community genetics
    • Genotype-environment interaction
    • Genotype-phenotype map
    • Indirect ecological effect
    • Tri-trophic interaction
    • Trophic cascade


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