We investigated the genetic architecture of courtship song and cuticular hydrocarbon traits in two phygenetically distinct populations of Drosophila montana. To study natural variation in these two important traits, we analysed within-population crosses among individuals sampled from the wild. Hence, the genetic variation analysed should represent that available for natural and sexual selection to act upon. In contrast to previous between-population crosses in this species, no major quantitative trait loci (QTLs) were detected, perhaps because the between-population QTLs were due to fixed differences between the populations. Partitioning the trait variation to chromosomes suggested a broadly polygenic genetic architecture of within-population variation, although some chromosomes explained more variation in one population compared with the other. Studies of natural variation provide an important contrast to crosses between species or divergent lines, but our analysis highlights recent concerns that segregating variation within populations for important quantitative ecological traits may largely consist of small effect alleles, difficult to detect with studies of moderate power.
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