Genetically correlated traits are known to respond to indirect selection pressures caused by directional selection on other traits. It is however unclear how local adaptation in populations diverging along some phenotypic traits but not others is affected by the joint action of gene flow and genetic correlations among traits. This simulation study shows that although gene flow is a potent constraining mechanism of population adaptive divergence, it may induce phenotypic divergence in traits under homogeneous selection among habitats if they are genetically correlated with traits under divergent selection. This correlated phenotypic divergence is a nonmonotonous function of migration and increases with mutational correlation among traits. It also increases with the number of divergently selected traits provided their genetic autonomy relative to the uniformly selected trait is reduced by specific patterns of genetic covariances: populations with lower effective trait dimensionality are more likely to generate very large correlated divergence. The correlated divergence is likely to be picked up by Q(ST)-F(ST) analysis of population genetic differentiation and be erroneously ascribed to adaptive divergence under divergent selection. This study emphasizes the necessity to understand the interaction between selection and the genetic basis of adaptation in a multivariate rather than univariate context.
© 2011 The Author(s). Evolution© 2011 The Society for the Study of Evolution.