Heritability of interpack aggression in a wild pedigreed population of North American grey wolves.

TitleHeritability of interpack aggression in a wild pedigreed population of North American grey wolves.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsvonHoldt, BM, DeCandia, AL, Heppenheimer, E, Janowitz-Koch, I, Shi, R, Zhou, H, German, CA, Brzeski, KE, Cassidy, KA, Stahler, DR, Sinsheimer, JS
JournalMol Ecol
Date Published2020 Jan 06
ISSN1365-294X
Abstract

Aggression is a quantitative trait deeply entwined with individual fitness. Mapping the genomic architecture underlying such traits is complicated by complex inheritance patterns, social structure, pedigree information and gene pleiotropy. Here, we leveraged the pedigree of a reintroduced population of grey wolves (Canis lupus) in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, USA, to examine the heritability of and the genetic variation associated with aggression. Since their reintroduction, many ecological and behavioural aspects have been documented, providing unmatched records of aggressive behaviour across multiple generations of a wild population of wolves. Using a linear mixed model, a robust genetic relationship matrix, 12,288 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and 111 wolves, we estimated the SNP-based heritability of aggression to be 37% and an additional 14% of the phenotypic variation explained by shared environmental exposures. We identified 598 SNP genotypes from 425 grey wolves to resolve a consensus pedigree that was included in a heritability analysis of 141 individuals with SNP genotype, metadata and aggression data. The pedigree-based heritability estimate for aggression is 14%, and an additional 16% of the phenotypic variation was explained by shared environmental exposures. We find strong effects of breeding status and relative pack size on aggression. Through an integrative approach, these results provide a framework for understanding the genetic architecture of a complex trait that influences individual fitness, with linkages to reproduction, in a social carnivore. Along with a few other studies, we show here the incredible utility of a pedigreed natural population for dissecting a complex, fitness-related behavioural trait.

DOI10.1111/mec.15349
Alternate JournalMol. Ecol.
PubMed ID31905256
Grant List / / Yellowstone National Park /
GM053275 / NH / NIH HHS / United States
HG009120 / NH / NIH HHS / United States
DEB-1245373 / / National Science Foundation /
DGE1656466 / / National Science Foundation /
DMS 1264153 / / National Science Foundation /