Eur. J. Entomol. 109 (3): 389-394, 2012 | DOI: 10.14411/eje.2012.050

Temporal variation in elytral colour polymorphism in Hippodamia variegata (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae)

Alois HONEK1, Zdenka MARTINKOVA1, Pavel SASKA1, Anthony F.G. DIXON2
1 Crop Research Institute, Drnovska 507, 16106 Praha 6 - Ruzyne, Czech Republic, e-mails: honek@vurv.cz; martinkova@vurv.cz; saska@vurv.cz
2 University of East Anglia, School of Biological Sciences, Norwich NR4 7TJ, United Kingdom, e-mail: a.f.dixon@uea.ac.uk

Lady beetles (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae) are a classical group for studying the mechanisms that determine local and temporal trends in colour polymorphism. Here we report long term trends in variation in the percentage of different morphs in a population of Hippodamia variegata (Goeze) at Štúrovo, Slovakia (47°48´N, 18°43´E). The morphs differ in the number and location of the spots on their elytra. Beetles were sampled from stands of herbaceous plants using a standard method each year in August over a period of 74 years from 1937 to 2011. Twenty two morphs (out of 74 possible) were recorded in a total sample of 6,984 individuals. Four dominant morphs made up 90% of the total sample and varied in their annual frequency independently of one another. Frequency of "pale" morphs (0-3 spots per elytra), supposedly favoured by a warm climate, increased from 1981 to 2000s' during a period of climate warming, but only after a decrease that took place between 1937 and 1981, which did not parallel a change in climate. Moreover, the differences in the extent of the melanization of the elytral surface are too small to significantly affect thermoregulation in the different morphs. Therefore, the results presented do not provide unequivocal support for climate change determining the long term trends in the variation in the proportions of the different morphs.

Keywords: Coccinellidae, Hippodamia variegata, Adonia, lady beetle, polymorphism, elytra, thermoregulation, climate

Received: December 28, 2011; Accepted: March 7, 2012; Published: July 2, 2012

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