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Habitat-linked variation in life-history traits in Drosophila

Kim van der Linde , Jan G. Sevenster , Paul M. Brakefield & Bas J. Zwaan

Published as: Kim van der Linde & Jan G. Sevenster (2006). Local adaptation of development time and starvation resistance in eight Drosophila species of the Philippines. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 87: 115-125. Online Reprint

The effects of climatic factors on various life-history traits are well demonstrated in latitudinal and altitudinal clines. On a much smaller scale, (micro-) climatic variation can be also considerable, for instance between primary forest and open grassland.

In our first study in the Philippines, we investigated intraspecific genetic variation in development time and starvation resistance between populations of eight Drosophila species from different habitats. The traits were measured in the F2 generation in a common lab environment. The results showed significant genetic variation between populations within several species. This variation is correlated across the eight species.

In our current study in Panama, the aim is to investigate the genetics and the expression of life-history traits in the field. First, we measured the expression of development time, starvation resistance and body size simultaneously in twelve Drosophila species in three habitats in the field. In a second experiment, we transplanted individuals of four species to the two other habitats and simultaneously measured in the original habitat to establish reaction norms of the populations from different habitats. Third, we measured the expression of these traits in a common lab environment as in our first study.