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To mate, or not to mate: The evolution of reproductive diapause facilitates insect radiation into African savannahs in the Late Miocene

Research profile seminar

Many tropical environments experience cyclical seasonal changes with pronounced wet and dry seasons causing uneven temporal distribution of resources. Short-lived animals inhabiting such environments often show season-specific adaptations to cope with alternating selection pressures. African Bicyclus butterflies frequently show strong seasonal polyphenism in a suite of phenotypic and life-history traits, and adults are thought to undergo reproductive diapause associated with the lack of available larval host plants during the dry season. First, using three years of field data for three species in Malawi, I show that one forest species reproduces continuously whereas two savannah species show two diapause-related strategies, complete reproductive diapause and pre-diapause mating. Further, using limited data from field-collected and museum samples, I then documented the same three mating strategies for additional 37 species. Phylogenetic analysis indicated that the ancestral state was a non-diapausing forest species, and that habitat preference and mating strategy evolved in a correlated fashion. Bicyclus butterflies underwent rapid diversification during the Late Miocene coinciding with expansion of savannah grasslands in Africa. I conclude that the ability to undergo reproductive diapause was a key trait that facilitated colonization into seasonal savannahs in the Late Miocene.

Lecturer: Sridhar Halali, Dept. of Zoology, University of Cambridge

Date: 8/26/2019

Time: 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM

Categories: Science

Location: Zoologihuset, Medicinaregatan 18 A
Seminar room, ground floor

Contact person: Staffan Andersson

Page Manager: Sven Toresson|Last update: 8/24/2016

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