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Spatial Variation in Selective Regimes: Sexual Selection in the Water Strider, Gerris odontogaster

Göran Arnqvist
Evolution
Vol. 46, No. 4 (Aug., 1992), pp. 914-929
DOI: 10.2307/2409746
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2409746
Page Count: 16
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Spatial Variation in Selective Regimes: Sexual Selection in the Water Strider, Gerris odontogaster
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Abstract

Studies of phenotypic selection in natural populations are often concerned with simply detecting selection. In adopting a more mechanistic approach, this study compares the sexual selection regimes m natural populations of the water strider Gerris odontogaster with a priori predictions of selection, based on a number of previous field and laboratory studies of the behavioral mechanisms of selection. In this species, a general reluctance of females to mate allows for intersexual selection for ability to subdue reluctant females in males. Female reluctance to mate has been shown to decrease with increasing population density, suggesting that sexual selection should be weaker in high density populations. Three different populations with large differences in population density were studied. A number of traits including parasite load, body mass, body size and male abdominal process length were found to experience significant sexual selection. The investigated populations differed considerably with regard to the total strength of selection on the measured traits and the form of selection on single traits. In general, males in the population with the highest density experienced the weakest selection for grasping ability. This pattern is ascribed to density-related alterations of female mating behavior. Selection for male grasping ability, as reflected by selection on male abdominal process length, is reduced in high-density populations where reluctant females are more easily subdued. Further, the studied populations differed significantly in mean phenotype and phenotypic variance for male abdominal process length. It is suggested that interpopulational differences in selective regimes may generate local adaptations with respect to male abdominal process length, and that gene flow may contribute to the maintenance of the high genetic variation in this trait. It is further suggested that more empirical effort should be made in quantifying and understanding spatial and temporal variation in selection in natural populations, since this may provide information on the prevalence of local adaptations in metric traits and on the mechanisms of selection.

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