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Local adaptations of life-history traits of a Drosophila parasitoid, Leptopilina boulardi: does climate drive evolution?


Joffrey Moiroux, Université de Rennes 1, UMR CNRS 6553, 263 Avenue du Général Leclerc, CS 74205, 35042 Rennes Cedex, France. E-mail:


1. Climate is an important source of selection on life histories, and local adaptations to climate have been described in several cline studies. Temperature is the main climatic factor that has been considered as an agent of selection, whereas other factors may vary with it, such as precipitation.

2. We compared life-history traits of five populations of Leptopilina boulardi, a Drosophila parasitoid, originating from contrasting climates. Referring to cline studies, we hypothesised shorter lifespan, earlier reproduction, and lower lipid content in populations from the hottest and driest areas if life histories have been selected in response to temperature and/or humidity.

3. Our results are opposite to these predictions. Females from humid and mild climates invested more in early reproduction and lived for fewer days than females from dry and hot areas, which were synovigenic (i.e. they matured additional eggs during adult life) and able to synthesise lipids during adult life.

4. We suggest that life histories are more adapted to host distribution than to climatic factors. Drosophila patches are more abundant in the humid area, allowing the parasitoids to spend less energy and time finding hosts. This may result in selection for early reproduction traded-off against longevity. In the hot and dry climate, females have to fly large distances to find host patches. Synovigeny, a long lifespan, lipogenesis, and high dispersal ability may be adaptive there. This is the first time that between-population differences in the ability to synthesise lipids have been described in parasitoids.