Research Article

Evolutionary Biology

, Volume 39, Issue 1, pp 116-125

First online:

Hind Wing Shape Evolves Faster than Front Wing Shape in Calopteryx Damselflies

  • David OutomuroAffiliated withDepartamento de Biología de Organismos y Sistemas, University of Oviedo Email author 
  • , Folmer BokmaAffiliated withDepartment of Ecology and Environmental Science, Umeå University
  • , Frank JohanssonAffiliated withDepartment of Ecology and Environmental Science, Umeå UniversityDepartment of Ecology and Genetics, Evolutionary Biology Centre, Uppsala University

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Wing shape has been shown in a variety of species to be influenced by natural and sexual selection. In damselflies, front- and hind wings can beat independently, and functional differentiation may occur. Males of Calopteryx damselflies show species-specific nuptial flights that differ in colour signalling with the hind wings. Therefore, hind wing shape and colour may evolve in concert to improve colour display, independent of the front wings. We predicted that male hind wing shape evolves faster than front wing shape, due to sexual selection. Females do not engage in sexual displays, so we predicted that females do not show differences in divergence between front- and hind wing shape. We analysed the non-allometric component of wing shape of five European Calopteryx taxa using geometric morphometrics. We found a higher evolutionary divergence of hind wing shape in both sexes. Indeed, we found no significant differences in rate of evolution between the sexes, despite clear sex-specific differences in wing shape. We suggest that evolution of hind wing shape in males is accelerated by sexual selection on pre-copulatory displays and that this acceleration is reflected in females due to genetic correlations that somehow link the rates of wing shape evolution in the two sexes, but not the wing shapes themselves.


Evolutionary divergence Functional differentiation Geometric morphometrics Phylogeny Sexual selection