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Annu Rev Entomol. 1997;42:207-30.

Physiology and ecology of dispersal polymorphism in insects.

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School of Biological Sciences, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Nebraska 68588, USA.


Studies of dispersal polymorphism in insects have played a pivotal role in advancing our understanding of population dynamics, life history evolution, and the physiological basis of adaptation. Comparative data on wing-dimorphic insects provide the most definitive evidence to date that habitat persistence selects for reduced dispersal capability. The increased fecundity of flightless females documents that a fitness trade-off exists between flight capability and reproduction. However, only recently have studies of nutrient consumption and allocation provided unequivocal evidence that this fitness trade-off results from a trade-off of internal resources. Recent studies involving wing-dimorphic insects document that flight capability imposes reproductive penalties in males as well as females. Direct information on hormone titers and their regulation implicates juvenile hormone and ecdysone in the control of wing-morph determination. However, detailed information is available for only one species, and the physiological regulation of wing-morph production remains poorly understood. Establishing a link between the ecological factors that influence dispersal and the proximate physiological mechanisms regulating dispersal ability in the same taxon remains as a key challenge for future research.

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