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Female polymorphism is observed in various animal species, but is particularly common in damselflies. The maintenance of this polymorphism has traditionally been explained from frequency and density dependent sexual conflict, however, the role of abiotic factors has recently attracted more interest. Here, the role of ambient temperature in shaping life-history was investigated for the three female morphs of Ischnura elegans (Vander Linden) (Zygoptera: Coenagrionidae). Eggs were obtained from the three mature female morphs for two populations in the Netherlands. Using a split-brood design, eggs of both populations were divided between a cold and a warm treatment group in the laboratory, and egg survival and hatching time were measured. Significant thermal plasticity was found in both hatching time and egg survival between both temperature treatments. However, individuals born to mothers belonging to different colour morphs did not differ in their response to temperature treatment. Independent of colour morph, clear differences in both life-history traits between the populations were found, suggesting local adaptation. Specifically, individuals from one population hatched faster but had lower egg survival in both thermal regimes. The selection force establishing fast hatching could be (facultative) bivoltinism in one of the populations compared to univoltinism in the other. This would be in line with the more southern (and more coastal) location of the presumed bivoltine population and the inverse relation between voltinism and latitude known from earlier studies. However, other natural selection forces, e.g. deterioration of the aquatic habitat, may also drive fast hatching.
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