Rapid adaptive evolution of the diapause program during range expansion of an invasive mosquito.
In temperate climates, the recurring seasonal exigencies of winter represent a fundamental physiological challenge for a wide range of organisms. In response, many temperate insects enter diapause, an alternative developmental program, including developmental arrest, that allows organisms to synchronize their life cycle with seasonal environmental variation. Geographic variation in diapause phenology contributing to local climatic adaptation is well documented. However, few studies have examined how the rapid evolution of a suite of traits expressed across the diapause program may contribute to climatic adaptation on a contemporary timescale. Here, we investigate the evolution of the diapause program over the past 35 years by leveraging a "natural experiment" presented by the recent invasion of the Asian tiger mosquito, Aedes albopictus, across the eastern United States. We sampled populations from two distinct climatic regions separated by 6° of latitude (~700 km). Using common-garden experiments, we identified regional genetic divergence in diapause-associated cold tolerance, diapause duration, and postdiapause starvation tolerance. We also found regional divergence in nondiapause thermal performance. In contrast, we observed minimal regional divergence in nondiapause larval growth traits and at neutral molecular marker loci. Our results demonstrate rapid evolution of the diapause program and imply strong selection caused by differences in winter conditions.