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Morphology, Performance and Fitness

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/icb/23.2.347 347-361 First published online: 1 May 1983


Selection can be measured in natural populations by the changes it causes in the means, variances and covariances of phenotypic characters. Furthermore the force of selection can be measured in conventional statistical terms that also play a key role in theoretical equations for evolutionary change. The problem of measuring selection on morphological traits is simplified by breaking the task into two parts: measurement of the effects of morphological variation on performance and measurement of the effects of performance on fitness. The first part can be pursued in the laboratory but the second part is best accomplished in the field. The approach is illustrated with a hypothetical analysis of selection acting on the complex trophic morphology of snakes.

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