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Evolution. 2008 Jun;62(6):1317-34. doi: 10.1111/j.1558-5646.2008.00371.x. Epub 2008 Mar 12.

Reaction norm variants for male calling song in populations of Achroia grisella (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae): toward a resolution of the lek paradox.

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Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Univ. of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas 66045, USA.


Significant additive genetic variance often occurs for male advertisement traits in spite of the directional selection imposed by female choice, a problem generally known in evolutionary biology as the lek paradox. One hypothesis, which has limited support from recent studies, for the resolution of this paradox is the role of genotype x environment interaction in which no one genotype exhibits the superior performance in all environments--a crossover of reaction norms. However, these studies have not characterized the actual variation of reaction norms present in natural populations, and the extent to which crossover maintains genetic variance remains unknown. Here, we present a study of genotype x environment interaction for the male calling song in populations of Achroia grisella (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae; lesser waxmoth). We report significant variance among reaction norms for male calling song in two North American populations of A. grisella as measured along temperature, food availability, and density gradients, and there is a relatively high incidence of crossover of the temperature reaction norms. This range of reaction norm variants and their crossover may reflect the co-occurrence of plastic and canalized genotypes, and we argue that the different responses of these variants along environmental gradients may contribute toward the maintenance of genetic variance for male song.

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