Understanding the genetic basis of traits involved in adaptation is a major challenge in evolutionary biology but remains poorly understood. Here, we use genome-wide association mapping using a custom 50 k single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) array in a natural population of collared flycatchers to examine the genetic basis of clutch size, an important life-history trait in many animal species. We found evidence for an association on chromosome 18 where one SNP significant at the genome-wide level explained 3.9% of the phenotypic variance. We also detected two suggestive quantitative trait loci (QTLs) on chromosomes 9 and 26. Fitness differences among genotypes were generally weak and not significant, although there was some indication of a sex-by-genotype interaction for lifetime reproductive success at the suggestive QTL on chromosome 26. This implies that sexual antagonism may play a role in maintaining genetic variation at this QTL. Our findings provide candidate regions for a classic avian life-history trait that will be useful for future studies examining the molecular and cellular function of, as well as evolutionary mechanisms operating at, these loci.
Keywords: Ficedula albicollis; GWAS; QTL; clutch size; egg production; fitness trait.