Phenotypic and genetic variation in male genitalia in the seedbug, Lygaeus equestris (Heteroptera)




Male genitalia evolve through sexual selection and, in insects, tend to show negative static allometry, low phenotypic variation, and are usually relatively small. Much less is known about the genetic variation and heritability of male genitalia. Additionally, in instances where the intromittent organ is greatly elongated, it is unclear whether typical patterns of genital scaling and variation also apply. In the present study, we investigated the allometry, variation, and heritability of male genital length in the seedbug, Lygaeus equestris, a species with a greatly elongated intromittent organ (i.e. almost as long as male body size). We found that genital length was negatively allometric, in spite of its great length, and was no more variable than nongenital traits. Additionally, genital length was significantly heritable and had considerable evolvability. © 2009 The Linnean Society of London, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2009, 98, 400–405.