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Research article2017Peer reviewedOpen access

Phylogeography and larval spine length of the dragonfly Leucorhinia dubia in Europe

Johansson, Frank; Halvarsson, Peter; Mikolajewski, Dirk J.; Hoeglund, Jacob


Presence or absence of predators selects for different kind of morphologies. Hence, we expect variation in traits that protect against predators to vary over geographical areas where predators vary in past and present abundance. Abdominal larval spines in dragonfly larvae provide protection against fish predators. We studied geographical variation in larval spine length of the dragonfly Leucorrhinia dubia across Western Europe using a phylogenetic approach. Larvae were raised in a common garden laboratory experiment in the absence of fish predators. Results show that larvae from northern Europe (Sweden and Finland) had significantly longer larval spines compared to larvae from western and central Europe. A phylogeny based on SNP data suggests that short larval spines is the ancestral stage in the localities sampled in this study, and that long spines have evolved in the Fenno-Scandian clade. The role of predators in shaping the morphological differences among the sampled localities is discussed.

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2017, Volume: 12, number: 9, article number: e0184596

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