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Keywords:

  • Allometry;
  • scaling;
  • body size;
  • shape;
  • wing polymorphism;
  • sexual size dimorphism;
  • Gerris remigis

Changes in size, whether ontogenetic or phylogenetic, tend to be associated with changes in shape. This allometry can arise through two different evolutionary mechanisms: (1) selection acting primarily on overall size may be associated with changes in shape because of physiological and mechanical constraints or differential responses of different body components; or (2) selection acting primarily on shape (on the size of specific body components) may be associated with changes in overall size because of genetic correlations, and thus correlated responses, of other body components. To assess the relative importance of these two mechanisms, shape polymorphism is examined along two axes of size dimorphism (sex and wing morphology) in the common waterstrider, Gerris remigis Say. Eight measurements were made of body and appendage components of 234 adults, from three independent populations. Univariate and multivariate analyses reveal that both sexes and wing morphs differ significantly in size and shape. Shape differentiation along the two axes of size dimorphism is found to be dissimilar, partially independent of size, and strongly correlated with the ecological specialization of the various morphs. These observations suggest that selection is acting directly on shape, and thus that allometry in this species primarily reflects shape-mediated changes in size (mechanism 2), rather than size-mediated changes in shape. The role of developmental processes in facilitating this shape differentiation is discussed.