Study explores beetle species with two forms of females

A fascinating new study from the forthcoming issue of The American Naturalist attempts to explain the mysterious persistence of two forms of females in many diving beetle populations. Their findings have important implications for theories of sexual conflict, which arises when the costs and benefits of multiple matings differ for males and females.

“The male versus female arms race (involving physical structures, behaviors, chemicals, etc.) for control over mating may take place over evolutionary time, which in theory can lead to the formation of a new species,” explain the authors.

Examining species of diving beetles that have two forms of females – for example, one with a smooth back and another furrowed – the researchers found that this polymorphism is actually a stable state, that is, neither of the forms go extinct.

“The results have implications for the understanding of how genetic diversity is maintained in populations where sexual conflict characterizes the mating system,” write the authors. “It also affects our theoretical expectations of sexual conflict as a species creator.”

From University of Chicago Press Journals

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5 thoughts on “Study explores beetle species with two forms of females”

  1. It reminds me of the tiger swallowtail butterfly. The beautiful female can have either a black color or a yellow one.

  2. Science Blog is a combination of science press releases (in this case) and actual blog posts, as can be found here. Hey, why not go start one and show the rest of us how it’s done?

  3. You call that a blog post? Where’s the detail? What species is it? What is meant by “two types of females” – is it just a difference in appearance, or is it a fundamental divergence in the nature of the two types? How do the males recognize each type? What competition is there between the females? How does this arise? Why is it stable? Goddammit, you can’t write a half-assed scratch-the-surface piece like this and expect that to be enough? No, I say, no!

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