We tested the hypothesis that locomotor speed and endurance show a negative genetic correlation using a genetically variable laboratory strain of house mice (Hsd:ICR: Mus domesticus). A negative genetic correlation would qualify as an evolutionary "constraint" because both aspects of locomotor performance are generally expected to be under positive directional selection in wild populations. We also tested whether speed or endurance showed any genetic correlation with body mass. For all traits, residuals from multiple regression equations were computed to remove effects of possible confounding variables such as age at testing, measurement block, observer, and sex. Estimates of quantitative genetic parameters were then obtained using R. G. Shaw's restricted maximum likelihood programs (1987, Evolution 41:812-826), modified to account for our breeding design, which incorporated cross-fostering. Both speed and endurance were measured on two consecutive trial days, and both were repeatable. We initially analyzed performances on each trial day and the maximal value. For endurance, the three estimates of narrow-sense heritabilities ranged from 0.17 to 0.33 (full ADCE model), and some were statistically significantly different from zero using likelihood ratio tests. The heritability estimate for sprint speed measured on trial day 1 was 0.17, but negative for all other measures. Moreover, the additive genetic covariance between speeds measured on the two days was near zero, indicating that the two measures are to some extent different traits. The additive genetic covariance between speed on trial day 1 and any of the four measures of endurance was negative, large, and always statistically significant. None of the measures of speed or endurance was significantly genetically correlated with body mass. Thus, we predict that artificial selection for increased locomotor speed in these mice would result in a decrease in endurance but no change in body mass. Such experiments could lead to a better understanding of the physiological mechanisms leading to trade-offs in aspects of locomotor abilities.
Copyright 1996 The Society for the Study of Evolution.