Investigating latitudinal clines for life history and stress resistance traits in Drosophila simulans from eastern Australia


Carla M. Sgrò, Centre for Environmental Stress and Adaptation Research (CESAR), Department of Genetics, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne 3010, Vic., Australia.
Tel.: +61 3 9902 0332; fax: +61 3 9905 5613; e-mail:


Latitudinal clines have been demonstrated for many quantitative traits in Drosophila and are assumed to be due to climatic selection. However, clinal studies are often performed in species of Drosophila that contain common cosmopolitan inversion polymorphisms that also show clinal patterns. These inversion polymorphisms may be responsible for much of the observed clinal variation. Here, we consider latitudinal clines for quantitative traits in Drosophila simulans from eastern Australia. Drosophila simulans does not contain cosmopolitan inversion polymorphisms, so allows the study of clinal selection on quantitative traits that are not confounded by associations with inversions. Body size showed a strong linear cline for both females and males. Starvation resistance exhibited a weak linear cline in females, whereas chill-coma recovery exhibited a significant nonlinear cline in females only. No clinal pattern was evident for development time, male chill-coma recovery, desiccation or heat resistance. We discuss these results with reference to the role inversion polymorphisms play in generating clines in quantitative traits of Drosophila.