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The effects of latitude, body size, and sexual selection on wing shape in a damselfly

Biological journal of the Linnean Society 2011 v.102 no.2 pp. 263-274
body size, females, flight, latitude, morphometry, pigmentation, sexual dimorphism, sexual selection, wings
Under natural selection, wing shape is expected to evolve to optimize flight performance. However, other selective factors besides flight performance may influence wing shape. One such factor could be sexual selection in wing sexual ornaments, which may lead to alternative variations in wing shape that are not necessarily related to flight performance. In the present study, we investigated wing shape variations in a calopterygid damselfly along a latitudinal gradient using geometric morphometrics. Both sexes show wing pigmentation, which is a known signal trait at intra- and interspecific levels. Wing shape differed between sexes and, within the same sex, the shape of the hind wing differed from the front wing. Latitude and body size explained a high percentage of the variation in wing shape for female front and hind wings, and male front wings. In male hind wings, wing pigmentation explained a high amount of the variation in wing shape. On the other hand, the variation in shape explained by pigmentation was very low in females. We suggest that the conservative morphology of front wings is maintained by natural selection operating on flight performance, whereas the sex-specific differences in hind wings most likely could be explained by sexual selection. The observed sexual dimorphism in wing shape is likely a result of different sex-specific behaviours.