The significance of female color polymorphism in Odonata remains controversial despite many field studies. The importance of random factors (founder effects, genetic drift and migration) versus selective forces for the maintenance of this polymorphism is still discussed. In this study, we specifically test whether the female color polymorphism of Ischnura graellsii (Odonata, Coenagrionidae) is under selection in the wild. We compared the degree of genetic differentiation based on RAPD markers (assumed to be neutral) with the degree of differentiation based on color alleles. Weir and Cockerham's θ values showed a significant degree of population differentiation for both sets of loci (RAPD and color alleles) but the estimated degree of population differentiation (θ) was significantly greater for the set of RAPD loci. This result shows that some sort of selection contributes to the maintenance of similar color morph frequencies across the studied populations. Our results combined with those of previous field studies suggest that at least in some I. graellsii populations, density-dependent mechanisms might help to prevent the loss of this polymorphism but cannot explain the similarity in morph frequencies among populations.
Editor: K. Ross