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Genetica. 2001;112-113:273-86.

Rapid evolution of wing size clines in Drosophila subobscura.

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  • 1Department of Biology, Clarkson University, Potsdam, NY 13699-5805, USA.


Parallel latitudinal clines across species and continents provide dramatic evidence of the efficacy of natural selection, however little is known about the dynamics involved in cline formation. For example, several drosophilids and other ectotherms increase in body and wing size at higher latitudes. Here we compare evolution in an ancestral European and a recently introduced (North America) cline in wing size and shape in Drosophila subobscura. We show that clinal variation in wing size, spanning more than 15 degrees of latitude, has evolved in less than two decades. In females from Europe and North America, the clines are statistically indistinguishable however the cline for North American males is significantly shallower than that for European males. We document that while overall patterns of wing size are similar on two continents, the European cline is obtained largely through changing the proximal portion of the wing, whereas the North American cline is largely in the distal portion. We use data from sites collected in 1986/1988 (Pegueroles et al. 1995) and our 1997 collections to compare synchronic (divergence between contemporary populations that share a common ancestor) and allochronic (changes over time within a population) estimates of the rates of evolution. We find that, for these populations, allochronically estimated evolutionary rates within a single population are over 0.02 haldanes (2800 darwins), a value similar in magnitude to the synchronic estimates from the extremes of the cline. This paper represents an expanded analysis of data partially presented in Huey et al. (2000).

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