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Time constraint effects on phenology and life history synchrony in a damselfly along a latitudinal gradient

Śniegula, Szymon, Gołąb, Maria J., Johansson, Frank
Oikos 2016 v.125 no.3 pp. 414-423
Lestes, climate, hatching, latitude, phenology, photoperiod, rearing, temperature, univoltine habit, Europe
In organisms with complex life cycles living in seasonal environments, the synchronisation of phenological events is important from the ecological and evolutionary perspectives. Life history transitions should be synchronised to a greater degree at northern latitudes. We quantified hatching and emergence timing and synchrony in the obligate univoltine damselfly Lestes sponsa along a latitudinal gradient covering its entire north–south range in Europe. In our first experiment, populations from different latitudes were grown in separate climate chambers simulating temperature and photoperiod conditions occurring at their sites of origin. Northern populations expressed early and high synchronous hatching and emergence, central populations intermediate, and southern populations late and low synchronous hatching and emergence. This pattern was expressed at both population and full‐sibling family levels, indicating stronger selection for timing and synchronisation in the north compared to the south. In our second experiment, populations from all latitudes were reared in conditions simulating an average temperature and photoperiod over the latitudinal gradient. Interestingly, the pattern of timing and synchronisation was reversed with respect to latitude when compared to the pattern shown in the first experiment, indicating the importance of environmental factors in shaping phenological events. Our results indicate strong selection for timing and synchronisation of life history events at northern latitudes, caused by time constraints. Our results also show that it is important to use as natural conditions as possible in experiments on life history shifts in organisms with complex life cycles in order to achieve a correct understanding of these shifts.