Thermal evolution of pre-adult life history traits, geometric size and shape, and developmental stability in Drosophila subobscura


Mauro Santos, Departament de Genètica i de Microbiologia, Facultat de Ciències, Edifici Cn, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, 08193 Bellaterra (Barcelona), Spain.
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Replicated lines of Drosophila subobscura originating from a large outbred stock collected at the estimated Chilean epicentre (Puerto Montt) of the original New World invasion were allowed to evolve under controlled conditions of larval crowding for 3.5 years at three temperature levels (13, 18 and 22 °C). Several pre-adult life history traits (development time, survival and competitive ability), adult life history related traits (wing size, wing shape and wing-aspect ratio), and wing size and shape asymmetries were measured at the three temperatures. Cold-adapted (13 °C) populations evolved longer development times and showed lower survival at the highest developmental temperature. No divergence for wing size was detected following adaptation to temperature extremes (13 and 22 °C), in agreement with earlier observations, but wing shape changes were obvious as a result of both thermal adaptation and development at different temperatures. However, the evolutionary trends observed for the wing-aspect ratio were inconsistent with an adaptive hypothesis. There was some indication that wing shape asymmetry has evolutionarily increased in warm-adapted populations, which suggests that there is additive genetic variation for fluctuating asymmetry and that it can evolve under rapid environmental changes caused by thermal stress. Overall, our results cast strong doubts on the hypothesis that body size itself is the target of selection, and suggest that pre-adult life history traits are more closely related to thermal adaptation.