Phenotypic and genetic variation in emergence and development time of a trimorphic damselfly


J. Abbott, Department of Animal Ecology, Ecology Building, Lund University, SE-223 63 Lund, Sweden.
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Although colour polymorphisms in adult organisms of many taxa are often adaptive in the context of sexual selection or predation, genetic correlations between colour and other phenotypic traits expressed early in ontogeny could also play an important role in polymorphic systems. We studied phenotypic and genetic variation in development time among female colour morphs in the polymorphic damselfly Ischnura elegans in the field and by raising larvae in a common laboratory environment. In the field, the three different female morphs emerged at different times. Among laboratory-raised families, we found evidence of a significant correlation between maternal morph and larval development time in both sexes. This suggests that the phenotypic correlation between morph and emergence time in the field has a parallel in a genetic correlation between maternal colour and offspring development time. Maternal colour morph frequencies could thus potentially change as correlated responses to selection on larval emergence dates. The similar genetic correlation in male offspring suggests that sex-limitation in this system is incomplete, which may lead to an ontogenetic sexual conflict between selection for early male emergence (protandry) and emergence times associated with maternal morph.