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The cosmopolitan freshwater pulmonate snail Physa acuta hybridizes readily with Physa carolinae in the laboratory, although their F1 progeny are sterile. The two species differ qualitatively in shell shape, the former bearing a more globose shell and the latter more fusiform. We performed a hybridization experiment, measuring a set of 14 traditional (linear) and landmark-based shell morphological variables on even-aged parents and their offspring from both hybrids and purebred control lines. Parent-offspring regression yielded a strikingly high heritability estimate for score on the first relative warp axis, h2 = 0.819 ± 0.073, a result that would seem to confirm the value of geometric morphometrics as a tool for retrieving evolutionary relationships from gastropod shell form. Score on the second relative warp axis was also significantly heritable (h2 = 0.312 ± 0.123), although more moderate, as were scores on second principal components extracted from traditional measurements (correlation h2 = 0.308 ± 0.069, covariance h2 = 0.314 ± 0.050). Although score on the first relative warp axis was significantly correlated with centroid size (p < 0.001), scores on none of the three second axes were so correlated. This result suggests that second axis score might prove especially useful for estimating genetic divergence among mixed-age populations of gastropods sampled from the field.


Copyright: © 2015 Dillon, Jacquemin. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited