Range limits, large-scale biogeographic variation, and localized evolutionary dynamics in a polymorphic damselfly

Thomas Gosden, Robby Stoks, Erik Svensson

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59 Citations (SciVal)


Studies of heritable colour polymorphisms allow investigators to track the genetic dynamics of natural populations. By comparing polymorphic populations over large geographic areas and across generations, issues about both morph stability and evolutionary dynamics can be addressed, increasing our understanding of the potential mechanisms maintaining genetic polymorphisms. In the present study, we investigated population morph frequencies in a sex-limited heritable colour polymorphic damselfly (Ischnura elegans, Vander Linden), with three discrete female morphs. We compared the frequencies of these three female morphs in 120 different populations from ten European countries at differing latitudes and longitudes. There were pronounced differences in morph frequencies both across the entire European biogeographic range, as well as at a smaller scale within regions. We also found considerable between-population variation at the local scale within regions, particularly at the edges of the range of this species. We discuss these findings in the context of recent models of adaptive population divergence along the range of a species. This polymorphism is thus highly dynamic, with stable morph frequencies at the core of the species range but fluctuating morph dynamics at the range limits. We finish with a discussion of how local interactions and climatic factors can be expected to have a strong influence on the biogeographic patterns in this species and other sexually selected polymorphisms. (c) 2011 The Linnean Society of London, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2011, 102, 775-785.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)775-785
JournalBiological Journal of the Linnean Society
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2011

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Biological Sciences


  • biogeography
  • cline
  • gene flow
  • genetic
  • male-mimic
  • population
  • divergence
  • species range


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