Head Shape Heritability in the Hungarian Meadow Viper Vipera ursinii rakosiensis
Oliveira, D.; Halpern, B.ál.; Martínez-Freiría, F.; Kaliontzopoulou, A.
Animals: An Open Access Journal from Mdpi 13(2)
ISSN/ISBN: 2076-2615 PMID: 36670862 Accession: 089881392
Understanding heritability patterns in functionally relevant traits is a cornerstone for evaluating their evolutionary potential and their role in local adaptation. In this study, we investigated patterns of heritability in the head shape of the Hungarian meadow viper (Vipera ursinii rakosiensis). To this end, we used geometric morphometric data from 12 families composed of 8 mothers, 6 fathers and 221 offspring, bred in captivity at the Hungarian Meadow Viper Conservation Centre (Hungary). We separately evaluated maternal and paternal contributions to the offspring phenotype, in addition to additive genetic effects, all determined using a mixed animal model. Our results indicate a strong genetic and maternal contribution to head shape variations. In contrast, the paternal effects-which are rarely evaluated in wild-ranging species-as well as residual environmental variance, were minimal. Overall, our results indicate a high evolutionary potential for head shape in the Hungarian meadow viper, which suggests a strong contribution of this ecologically important trait in shaping the ability of this endangered species to adapt to changing conditions and/or habitats. Furthermore, our results suggest that maternal phenotypes should be carefully considered when designing captive breeding parental pairs for reinforcing the adaptive capacity of threatened populations, whereas the paternal phenotypes seem less relevant.