A review of the phenotypic traits associated with insect dispersal polymorphism, and experimental designs for sorting out resident and disperser phenotypes.
Dispersal represents a key life-history trait with several implications for the fitness of organisms, population dynamics and resilience, local adaptation, meta-population dynamics, range shifting, and biological invasions. Plastic and evolutionary changes of dispersal traits have been intensively studied over the past decades in entomology, in particular in wing-dimorphic insects for which literature reviews are available. Importantly, dispersal polymorphism also exists in wing-monomorphic and wingless insects, and except for butterflies, fewer syntheses are available. In this perspective, by integrating the very latest research in the fast moving field of insect dispersal ecology, this review article provides an overview of our current knowledge of dispersal polymorphism in insects. In a first part, some of the most often used experimental methodologies for the separation of dispersers and residents in wing-monomorphic and wingless insects are presented. Then, the existing knowledge on the morphological and life-history trait differences between resident and disperser phenotypes is synthetized. In a last part, the effects of range expansion on dispersal traits and performance is examined, in particular for insects from range edges and invasion fronts. Finally, some research perspectives are proposed in the last part of the review.