Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Drosophila suzukii wing spot size is robust to developmental temperature.

Abstract

Phenotypic plasticity is an important mechanism allowing adaptation to new environments and as such it has been suggested to facilitate biological invasions. Under this assumption, invasive populations are predicted to exhibit stronger plastic responses than native populations. Drosophila suzukii is an invasive species whose males harbor a spot on the wing tip. In this study, by manipulating developmental temperature, we compare the phenotypic plasticity of wing spot size of two invasive populations with that of a native population. We then compare the results with data obtained from wild-caught flies from different natural populations. While both wing size and spot size are plastic to temperature, no difference in plasticity was detected between native and invasive populations, rejecting the hypothesis of a role of the wing-spot plasticity in the invasion success. In contrast, we observed a remarkable stability in the spot-to-wing ratio across temperatures, as well as among geographic populations. This stability suggests either that the spot relative size is under stabilizing selection, or that its variation might be constrained by a tight developmental correlation between spot size and wing size. Our data show that this correlation was lost at high temperature, leading to an increased variation in the relative spot size, particularly marked in the two invasive populations. This suggests: (a) that D. suzukii 's development is impaired by hot temperatures, in agreement with the cold-adapted status of this species; (b) that the spot size can be decoupled from wing size, rejecting the hypothesis of an absolute constraint and suggesting that the wing color pattern might be under stabilizing (sexual) selection; and (c) that such sexual selection might be relaxed in the invasive populations. Finally, a subtle but consistent directional asymmetry in spot size was detected in favor of the right side in all populations and temperatures, possibly indicative of a lateralized sexual behavior.