• dung beetle;
  • elytral color;
  • geographic cline;
  • reflectance spectrum


We investigated geographic color variation of the beetle Phelotrupes auratus in the Kinki region of central Japan using a spectrophotometer. The reflectance spectrum of the dorsal surface of the elytron was measured for beetles collected from 23 sites. We focused on λmax(α), the wavelength at the peak (α peak) between 400 and 700 nm (human visual sensitivity range), for analyses of color variation. In populations distributed on the Kii Peninsula, in the southern part of the Kinki region, average λmax(α) values were lower (480–497 nm) than in populations distributed in the area west of Lake Biwa, the western part of the Kinki region (618–633 nm). For populations distributed in the areas south and southeast of Lake Biwa, a geographic cline of λmax(α) was observed approximately along an east–west transect, with average λmax values varying continuously from 624 to 557 nm. The easternmost populations along this cline had almost the same λmax(α) values as the populations distributed west of Lake Biwa. The coefficient of variation for λmax(α) tended to be larger in populations with intermediate averages than those with lower or higher average values.