Survival selection on escape performance and its underlying phenotypic traits: a case of many-to-one mapping


Francis Strobbe, Laboratory of Aquatic Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Department of Biology, University of Leuven, Ch. Debériotstraat 32, B-3000 Leuven, Belgium.
Tel. +32 16 32 37 09; fax: +32 16 32 45 75; e-mail:


Selection often operates not directly on phenotypic traits but on performance which is important as several traits may contribute to a single performance measure (many-to-one mapping). Although largely ignored in the context of selection, this asks for studies that link all relevant phenotypes with performance and fitness. In an enclosure experiment, we studied links between phenotypic traits, swimming performance and survival in two Enallagma damselflies. Predatory dragonflies imposed survival selection for increased swimming propensity and speed only in E. annexum; probably E. aspersum was buffered by the former species’ presence. Accordingly, more circular caudal lamellae, structures involved in generating thrust while swimming, were selected for only in E. annexum. Other phenotypic traits that contributed to swimming speed were apparently not under selection, probably because of many-to-one mapping (functional redundancy). Our results indicate that not only the phenotypic distributions of syntopic prey organisms but also many-to-one mapping should be considered when documenting phenotype–performance–fitness relationships.