Drosophila melanogaster has colonized temperate habitats on multiple continents over a historical time period, and many traits vary predictably with latitude. Despite considerable attention paid to clinal variation in Drosophila, the mechanisms generating such patterns in nature remain largely unidentified. In D. melanogaster, the expression of reproductive diapause can be induced by exposure to low temperatures and shortened photoperiods. Both diapause expression itself and the underlying genetic variance for diapause expression have widespread impacts on organismal fitness, and diapause incidence exhibits a 60% cline in frequency in the eastern United States. The major aim of this study was to evaluate whether the relative fitness of diapause and nondiapause genotypes varies predictably with environment. In experimental population cages in the laboratory, the frequency of genotypes that express diapause increased over time when flies were exposed to environmental stress, whereas the frequency of nondiapause genotypes increased when flies were cultured under benign control conditions. Other fitness traits correlated with the genetic variance for diapause expression (longevity, mortality rates, stress resistance, lipid content, preadult viability, fecundity profiles, and development time) also diverged between experimental treatments. Similarly, sampling of isofemale lines from natural populations revealed that the frequency of diapause incidence cycled over time in seasonal habitats: diapause expression was at high frequency following the winter season and subsequently declined throughout the summer months. In contrast, diapause expression was low and temporally homogeneous in isofemale line collections from human-associated urban habitats. These data suggest that genetic variation underlying the diapause-nondiapause dichotomy may be actively maintained by selection pressures that vary spatially and temporally in natural populations.
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Vol. 60 • No. 8