Genetic Analysis of Female Preference Functions as Function‐Valued Traits
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... in generating suitable preference metrics in experiments large enough to adequately characterize variation. In this article, we take an alternative approach, treating female preference as a function-valued trait and exploiting random-coefficient models to characterize the genetic basis of female preference without measuring preference functions in each individual. Applying this approach to Drosophila bunnanda, in which females assess males through a multivariate contact pheromone system, we gain three valuable insights into the genetic basis of female preference functions. First, most genetic variation was attributable to one eigenfunction, suggesting shared genetic control of preferences for nine male pheromones. Second, genetic variance in female preference functions was not associated with genetic variance in the pheromones, implying that genetic variation in female preference did not maintain genetic variation in male traits. Finally, breeding values for female preference functions were skewed away from the direction of selection on the male traits, suggesting directional selection on female preferences. The genetic analysis of female preference functions as function-valued traits offers a robust statistical framework for investigations of female preference, in addition to alleviating some experimental difficulties associated with estimating variation in preference functions.