Genetic correlations, tradeoffs and environmental variation

Heredity (Edinb). 2004 Sep;93(3):241-8. doi: 10.1038/sj.hdy.6800532.


Negative genetic correlations among traits are often used as evidence for tradeoffs that can influence evolutionary trajectories in populations. While there may be evidence for negative correlations within a particular environment, genetic correlations can shift when populations encounter different environmental conditions. Here we review the evidence for these shifts by focusing on experiments that have examined genetic correlations in more than one environment. In many studies, there are significant changes in correlations and these can even switch sign across environments. This raises questions about the validity of deducing genetic constraints from studies in one environment and suggests that the interaction between environmental conditions and the expression of genetic covariation is an important avenue for future work.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Environment*
  • Genetic Variation / genetics*
  • Genotype
  • Phenotype