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Revista chilena de historia natural

Print version ISSN 0716-078X


NESPOLO, ROBERTO F.. Physiological performance, seasonality and phenotypic plasticity in small mammals: microevolution of change capacity in thermoregulatory characters. Rev. chil. hist. nat. [online]. 2000, vol.73, n.3, pp.553-563. ISSN 0716-078X.

Physiological adjustments that change the short term phenotype due thermal acclimation should be of central importance in small mammals that inhabit seasonal thermal environments. Under the premise of adaptation, a great number of works have reported and discussed the pattern from several points of view in the last few decades. However, this premise always has been relegated to discussions and rarely was tested both theoreticaly and/or empiricaly, in spite of the fact that the tools needed to do it now are available from evolutionary biology and quantitative genetics theory. I think this historical disconnection is explained by a number of facts already mentioned by many authors, and discussed here briefly. This area has reached enough maturity to experience a change in paradigm in order to quantify and test adaptative hypoteses about acclimation ecophysiology. In this essay I expose the resources that at last, would permit the modelling of the evolution of key thermoregulatory traits of small endotherms inhabiting seasonal environments. That is, determining phenotypic plasticity associated to these variables and using the reaction norm as character itself, and by estimating additive genetic variances and covariances to build the variance-covariance additive genetic matrix. These elements, along with the estimation of the directional selection gradient as an index of natural selection pressure, would permit to complete the model that predicts the evolutionary response to selection in a population

Keywords : variance-covariance genetic additive matrix; selection gradient; reaction norm; endothermy; metabolic rate.

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