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Genital variation in a dimorphic moth Selenia tetralunaria (Lepidoptera, Geometridae)

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Insect genitals vary greatly among species and provide a key tool for species-level taxonomy. Insects differing in the genitalia are often treated as discrete, reproductively isolated species. This principle dates back to the lock-and-key hypothesis, which states that genitalia vary between species in order to provide a mechanical reproductive isolation system. Thus, the hypothesis assumes low within-species variability in genital traits. However, recent studies suggest that sexual selection may be responsible for the evolution of insect genitalia. We studied allometry and genital size and shape variation in a dimorphic moth Selenia tetralunaria. We found that the genitalia showed negative allometry in relation to body size as reported in many insect and spider species. This allometry was stronger in internal genital structures than it was in external genitalia. We also found that there was more variation in internal compared with external genitalia. Finally, we found that the shape of genital structures differed between morphs in all three examined areas. S. tetralunaria is among the first reported cases of genitally dimorphic insect species. Considerable variation in internal genitalia and especially the presence of genital shape differences between morphs were not consistent with the predictions of the lock-and-key hypothesis. © 2006 The Linnean Society of London, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2006, 87, 297–307.
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Keywords: allometry; genital dimorphism; genital evolution; geometric morphometrics; lock-and-key hypothesis

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Biology, University of Oulu, PO Box 3000, FIN-90014 University of Oulu, Finland

Publication date: 2006-02-01

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