Abstracts (first author)
A comparison between heritabilities of life history and morphological traits in human populationsPDF
According to Fisher's fundamental theorem of natural selection, the amount of additive genetic variance in a trait, and hence its heritability, should decrease as the strength of selection on this trait increases. Supporting this idea, many authors have reported lower heritability values in life history traits than in morphological and physiological traits for different species. But there are no studies comparing the evolvability of different types of traits in human populations. The pedigree collection of decorated skulls from the historical population of Hallstatt (Austria) offers an exceptional opportunity to compare the heritabilities of life history and morphological traits in humans. In this study we first used church records to reconstruct the pedigrees and to obtain the values of individual life history traits, such as fertility, age at first and at last child, mean interbirth interval, adult lifespan and lifetime reproductive success). Second, we measured a sample of 353 complete adult skulls falling into the pedigreesusing a 3D Microscribe digitizer. A set of 50 landmarks were measured on each skull and from the 3D landmarks coordinates we estimated several size and shape variables reflecting the complex and modular structure of the human skull. We estimated the heritabilities of the life-history and morphological traits using a Restricted Maximum Likelihood method and statistically compared the resulting heritability values. On average, our results show lower heritabilities for life history traits than for morphological ones, confirming the initial hypothesis.