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The phylogeny of diving beetles (Coleoptera: Dytiscidae) and the evolution of sexual conflict

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A model of evolution based on conflicts of interest between the sexes over mating decisions is examined in relation to diving beetles (Dytiscidae). The model predicts the following evolutionary sequence: (1) cost to females of mating increases, (2) females evolve behavioural resistance to male mating attempts, (3) males evolve devices to overcome female resistance, and (4) females evolve morphological counter-adaptations to the male devices. This model is tested using species of Dytiscidae, in which (1) some species have a very long mating duration while others mate quickly, (2) females of some species resist male mating attempts by swift and erratic swimming when seized by a male, (3) males of some species possess a grasping device in the form of sucker-shaped setae on the legs used to adhere to the pronota or elytra of females prior to mating, and (4) females of some species have a modified dorsal cuticle with irregular sculpturing which appears to interfere with the male adhesive setae. The predicted order of evolution of some of these features was tested in a cladistic analysis of 52 taxa in Dytiscidae and Hygrobiidae using characters from adult and larval morphology and a portion of the gene wingless. The combined analysis resulted in nine most parsimonious cladograms. The consensus cladogram of these indicates that male sucker setae arose a single time in a clade of Dytiscinae. Nested within this clade are five groups with an independently derived, modified dorsal cuticle in females. This pattern of characters in Dytiscinae is consistent with the prediction implied by the model of sexual selection. The utility of wingless as a marker for phylogenetic analysis of diving beetles is discussed, and the resulting phylogeny is compared with previous analyses and current classification. © 2003 The Linnean Society of London, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2003, 79, 359–388.
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Keywords: arms race; cladistics; dimorphism; secondary sexual characters; sexual selection

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2003-07-01

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