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Keywords:

  • Australia;
  • body size;
  • converse Bergmann's rule;
  • leaf beetle;
  • latitude;
  • Paropsis atomaria;
  • season length;
  • temperature

ABSTRACT

Aim  To measure latitude-related body size variation in field-collected Paropsis atomaria Olivier (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae) individuals and to conduct common-garden experiments to determine whether such variation is due to phenotypic plasticity or local adaptation.

Location  Four collection sites from the east coast of Australia were selected for our present field collections: Canberra (latitude 35°19′ S), Bangalow (latitude 28°43′ S), Beerburrum (latitude 26°58′ S) and Lowmead (latitude 24°29′ S). Museum specimens collected over the past 100 years and covering the same geographical area as the present field collections came from one state, one national and one private collection.

Methods  Body size (pronotum width) was measured for 118 field-collected beetles and 302 specimens from collections. We then reared larvae from the latitudinal extremes (Canberra and Lowmead) to determine whether the size cline was the result of phenotypic plasticity or evolved differences (= local adaptation) between sites.

Results  Beetles decreased in size with increasing latitude, representing a converse Bergmann cline. A decrease in developmental temperature produced larger adults for both Lowmead (low latitude) and Canberra (high latitude) individuals, and those from Lowmead were larger than those from Canberra when reared under identical conditions.

Main conclusions  The converse Bergmann cline in P. atomaria is likely to be the result of local adaptation to season length.