Saturday, July 6, 2013

On elytral morphology, sexual conflict and female mating polymorphism in diving beetles: new paper in "Interface"

Posted by Erik Svensson

Forrmer PhD-student Kristina Karlsson-Green (currently postdoc in the "Metapopulation Research Group in Helsinkki, Finland) has published one of her last thesis-paper in the Royal Society Journal "Interface". This paper deals with a fascinating female mating polymorphism in diving beetles, where females have either a "rough" or "smooth" elytral morphology. She has quantified fine-scale female elytral morphology using scanning electron microscopy (SEM), as well as male morphological adaptations to clasp females during matings in the form of so-called "suction cups" (see picture above), and also used a biomechanical experiments to quantify male adhesion ability on the different female morphologies.

Results provide experimental support to the suggestion that this female mating polymorphism is maintained by sexually antagonistic and frequency-dependent selection caused by sexual conflict, and different male phenotypes show different ability to clasp the different female morphs. The experiments in this fascinating study were performed in collaboration with our colleague Prof. Stanislav N. Gorb, at Kiel University (Germany), and I personally like this combination of biomechanics and evolutionary biology very much. Below, you find a link and Abstract to the study.

Male clasping ability, female polymorphism and sexual conflict: fine-scale elytral morphology as a sexually antagonistic adaptation in female diving beetles

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