Evol Ecol Res 12: 105-118 (2010)     Full PDF if your library subscribes.

Morph-specific variation in intersexual genetic correlations in an intra-specific mimicry system

J.K. Abbott and E.I. Svensson

Department of Animal Ecology, Lund University, Lund, Sweden

Correspondence: J.K. Abbott, Department of Animal Ecology, Evolutionary Biology Centre, Uppsala University, Norbyvägen 18D, SE-752 36 Uppsala, Sweden.
e-mail: jessica.abbott@ebc.uu.se


Background: Positive intersexual genetic correlations are typically viewed as constraining the evolution of sexual dimorphism, when traits are subject to sexually antagonistic selection. Our study species, the damselfly Ischnura elegans, has a female-limited colour polymorphism with three female colour morphs (males are monomorphic), one of which is considered to be a male mimic.

Questions: Are there morph-specific differences in the magnitude of intersexual genetic correlations in I. elegans? Specifically, do male-mimic (Androchrome) females have higher intersexual genetic correlations for morphological traits than non-mimic (Infuscans) females?

Methods: We collected copulating pairs in the field and raised offspring from these pairs in the laboratory. We measured five morphological traits in both parent and offspring generations and investigated their heritabilities and genetic correlations.

Results: We found a negative overall relationship between the degree of sexual dimorphism for a trait and its intersexual genetic correlation. But the magnitude and direction of intersexual genetic correlations depended on the female morph. As expected, male mimic (Androchrome) females had higher intersexual genetic correlations. In addition, the genetic correlations between the morphs were in all cases significantly lower than unity. Male mimic (Androchrome) females had higher mother–son covariances than the non-mimic (Infuscans) morph, and this difference is the proximate explanation for the difference in intersexual genetic correlations between the morphs.

Keywords: damselflies, Ischnura elegans, male mimic, polymorphism, sexual dimorphism.

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