A quantitative genetic model for growth, shape, reaction norms, and other infinite-dimensional characters

J Math Biol. 1989;27(4):429-50. doi: 10.1007/BF00290638.


Infinite-dimensional characters are those in which the phenotype of an individual is described by a function, rather than by a finite set of measurements. Examples include growth trajectories, morphological shapes, and norms of reaction. Methods are presented here that allow individual phenotypes, population means, and patterns of variance and covariance to be quantified for infinite-dimensional characters. A quantitative-genetic model is developed, and the recursion equation for the evolution of the population mean phenotype of an infinite-dimensional character is derived. The infinite-dimensional method offers three advantages over conventional finite-dimensional methods when applied to this kind of trait: (1) it describes the trait at all points rather than at a finite number of landmarks, (2) it eliminates errors in predicting the evolutionary response to selection made by conventional methods because they neglect the effects of selection on some parts of the trait, and (3) it estimates parameters of interest more efficiently.

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution
  • Models, Genetic*
  • Models, Statistical*
  • Phenotype
  • Reproduction