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Ecol Evol 2016 Sep 07;619:6892-6905. doi: 10.1002/ece3.2364.
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The effect of seed traits on geographic variation in body size and sexual size dimorphism of the seed-feeding beetle Acanthoscelides macrophthalmus.

Haga EB , Rossi MN .

Explaining large-scale patterns of variation in body size has been considered a central question in ecology and evolutionary biology because several life-history traits are directly linked to body size. For ectothermic organisms, little is known about what processes influence geographic variation in body size. Changes in body size and sexual size dimorphism (SSD) have been associated with environmental variables, particularly for Bruchinae insects, which feed exclusively on seeds during the larval stage. However, the effect of important seed traits on body size variation has rarely been investigated, and whether SSD varies substantially among populations within bruchine species is poorly known. Using the seed-feeding beetle Acanthoscelides macrophthalmus infesting its host plant Leucaena leucocephala, we investigated whether specific seed traits (hardness, size, water content, carbon/nitrogen ratio, and phenolic content) were determinant in generating geographic variation in body size and SSD of A. macrophthalmus. We also examined the relationships between body size and SSD with latitude and altitude. The body size of both sexes combined was not related to latitude, altitude, and any of the physical and chemical seed traits. However, the female body size tended to vary more in size than the males, generating significant variation in SSD in relation to latitude and altitude. The females were the larger sex at higher latitudes and at lower altitudes, precisely where seed water content was greater. Therefore, our results suggest that water content was the most important seed trait, most severely affecting the females, promoting geographic variation in SSD of A. macrophthalmus.

PubMed ID: 28725367
PMC ID: PMC5513244
Article link: Ecol Evol

Genes referenced: LOC115925415

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References [+] :
Amarillo-Suárez, Population differences in host use by a seed-beetle: local adaptation, phenotypic plasticity and maternal effects. 2006, Pubmed