Negative intersexual genetic correlation for colour pattern in a variable aposematic insect

Emily Burdfield-Steel*, Darrell J. Kemp

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    2 Citations (Scopus)
    17 Downloads (Pure)


    Despite the fact their coloration functions as an aposematic signal, and is thus expected to be under stabilizing selection, hibiscus harlequin bugs (Tectocoris diophthalmus) show an impressive level of variation in their iridescent coloration both within and between populations. To date the heritability of coloration in this species remains unknown. Here we focus on a single population in New South Wales (the southern part of this species' Australian range), with the greatest colour variation. We reared full-sib families of known pedigree in the laboratory and analysed the extent of iridescent coloration at adulthood. We then looked for evidence of heritability, condition dependence and antagonistic sexual selection acting on colour in this species. We found significant heritability in the extent of iridescent coloration for both sexes, as well as in development time and body size, but no evidence that condition dependence played a role in the determination of adult coloration. There was, however, a sex by genotype interaction for iridescent cover, in the form of a negative intersexual genetic correlation: in families where sons had high iridescent cover the daughters had low, and vice versa. Our results suggest that different selective pressures may act on coloration in males and females of this species.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1031-1042
    Number of pages12
    JournalBiological Journal of the Linnean Society
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021

    Bibliographical note

    Copyright the Author(s) 2021. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


    • aposematism
    • coloration
    • Hemiptera
    • heritability
    • Heteroptera
    • warning coloration


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