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Ecology and Sexual Selection: Evolution of Wing Pigmentation in Calopterygid Damselflies in Relation to Latitude, Sexual Dimorphism, and Speciation

  • Erik Svensson
  • John Waller
Publishing year: 2013
Language: English
Pages: 174-195
Publication/Series: American Naturalist
Volume: 182
Issue: 5
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Abstract english

Our knowledge about how the environment influences sexual selection regimes and how ecology and sexual selection interact is still limited. We performed an integrative study of wing pigmentation in calopterygid damselflies, combining phylogenetic comparative analyses, field observations and experiments. We investigated the evolutionary consequences of wing pigmentation for sexual dimorphism, speciation, and extinction and addressed the possible thermoregulatory benefits of pigmentation. First, we reconstructed ancestral states of male and female phenotypes and traced the evolutionary change of wing pigmentation. Clear wings are the ancestral state and that pigmentation dimorphism is derived, suggesting that sexual selection results in sexual dimorphism. We further demonstrate that pigmentation elevates speciation and extinction rates. We also document a significant biogeographic association with pigmented species primarily occupying northern temperate regions with cooler climates. Field observations and experiments on two temperate sympatric species suggest a link between pigmentation, thermoregulation, and sexual selection, although body temperature is also affected by other phenotypic traits such as body mass, microhabitat selection, and thermoregulatory behaviors. Taken together, our results suggest an important role for wing pigmentation in sexual selection in males and in speciation. Wing pigmentation might not increase ecological adaptation and species longevity, and its primary function is in sexual signaling and species recognition.


  • Biological Sciences
  • BiSSE
  • body temperature
  • Calopterygidae
  • Diversitree
  • insects
  • melanin
  • odonates
  • thermal adaptation
  • thermal imaging


  • BECC
  • ISSN: 0003-0147
E-mail: erik [dot] svensson [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se


Evolutionary ecology

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