Juvenile hormone mediates a trade-off between primary and secondary sexual traits in stalk-eyed flies


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SUMMARY Trade-offs between developing body parts may contribute to variation in allometric scaling relationships in a variety of taxa. Experimental evidence indicates that both circulating levels of juvenile hormone (JH) and sensitivities of developing body parts to JH can influence morphology in polyphenic insects. However, the extent to which JH may regulate both the development of traits that scale continuously with body size and trade-offs between these traits is largely unknown. Here, I present evidence that the JH analog methoprene applied to final instar larvae of a stalk-eyed fly (Cyrtodiopsis dalmanni) can induce males to produce larger eye-stalks relative to their body size. Examination of testis growth, sperm transfer, and egg maturation indicates that JH induces a trade-off between eye-span and gonad development in adult males, but not females. Age at sexual maturity was unaffected by larval JH applications to either sex. Collectively, these results are consistent with JH-mediated allocation of resources to eye-span at the expense of testes, and indicate potential costs for the production of an exaggerated trait.