Latitudinal clines are widespread in Drosophila melanogaster, and many have been interpreted as adaptive responses to climatic variation. However, the selective mechanisms generating many such patterns remain unresolved, and there is relatively little information regarding how basic life-history components such as fecundity, life span and mortality rates vary across environmental gradients. Here, it is shown that four life-history traits vary predictably with geographic origin of populations sampled along the latitudinal gradient in the eastern United States. Although such patterns are indicative of selection, they cannot distinguish between the direct action of selection on the traits in question or indirect selection by means of underlying genetic correlations. When independent suites of traits covary with geography, it is therefore critical to separate the widespread effects of population source from variation specifically for the traits under investigation. One trait that is associated with variation in life histories and also varies with latitude is the propensity to express reproductive diapause; diapause expression has been hypothesized as a mechanism by which D. melanogaster adults overwinter, and as such may be subject to strong selection in temperate habitats. In this study, recently derived isofemale lines were used to assess the relative contributions of population source and diapause genotype in generating the observed variance for life histories. It is shown that although life span, fecundity and mortality rates varied predictably with geography, diapause genotype explained the majority of the variance for these traits in the sampled populations. Both heat and cold shock resistance were also observed to vary predictably with latitude for the sampled populations. Cold shock tolerance varied between diapause genotypes and the magnitude of this difference varied with geography, whereas heat shock tolerance was affected solely by geographic origin of the populations. These data suggest that a subset of life-history parameters is significantly influenced by the genetic variance for diapause expression in natural populations, and that the observed variance for longevity and fecundity profiles may reflect indirect action of selection on diapause and other correlated traits.
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Vol. 62 • No. 5