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Keywords:

  • cogradient variation;
  • countergradient variation;
  • diapause induction;
  • phenotypic plasticity;
  • voltinism

Abstract

The relative roles of genetic differentiation and developmental plasticity in generating latitudinal gradients in life histories remain insufficiently understood. In particular, this applies to determination of voltinism (annual number of generations) in short-lived ectotherms, and the associated trait values. We studied different components of variation in development of Chiasmia clathrata (Lepidoptera: Geometridae) larvae that originated from populations expressing univoltine, partially bivoltine or bivoltine phenology along a latitudinal gradient of season length. Indicative of population-level genetic differentiation, larval period became longer while growth rate decreased with increasing season length within a particular phenology, but saw-tooth clines emerged across the phenologies. Indicative of phenotypic plasticity, individuals that developed directly into reproductive adults had shorter development times and higher growth rates than those entering diapause. The most marked differences between the alternative developmental pathways were found in the bivoltine region suggesting that the adaptive correlates of the direct development evolve if exposed to selection. Pupal mass followed a complex cline without clear reference to the shift in voltinism or developmental pathway probably due to varying interplay between the responses in development time and growth rate. The results highlight the multidimensionality of evolutionary trajectories of life-history traits, which either facilitate or constrain the evolution of integrated traits in alternative phenotypes.