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Data from: Relaxed predation results in reduced phenotypic integration in a suite of dragonflies

Cite this dataset

Mikolajewski, Dirk Johannes et al. (2016). Data from: Relaxed predation results in reduced phenotypic integration in a suite of dragonflies [Dataset]. Dryad.


While changes in magnitude of single traits responding to selective agents have been studied intensively, little is known about selection shaping networks of traits and their patterns of co-variation. However, this is central for our understanding of phenotypic evolution since traits are embedded in a multivariate environment with selection affecting a multitude of traits simultaneously rather than individually. Here, we investigate inter- and intraspecific patterns of trait integration (trait correlations) in the larval abdomen of dragonflies as a response to a change in predator selection. Species of the dragonfly genus Leucorrhinia underwent a larval habitat shift from predatory fish to predatory dragonfly dominated lakes with an associated relaxation in selection pressure from fish predation. Our results indicate that the habitat-shift induced relaxed selection pressure caused phenotypic integration of abdominal traits to be reduced. Intraspecific findings matched patterns comparing species from both habitats with higher abdominal integration in response to predatory fish. This higher integration is probably a result of faster burst swimming speed. The abdomen holds the necessary morphological machinery to successfully evade predatory fish via burst swimming. Hence, abdominal traits have to function in a tight coordinated manner, since maladaptive variation and consequently non-optimal burst swimming would cause increased mortality. In predatory dragonfly dominated lakes no such strong link between burst swimming and mortality is present. Our findings highlight the importance of studying multivariate trait relationships as a response to selection for understanding patterns of phenotypic diversification.

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