Header

UZH-Logo

Maintenance Infos

A fungal parasite selects against body size but not fluctuating asymmetry in Swiss subalpine yellow dung flies


Blanckenhorn, Wolf U (2021). A fungal parasite selects against body size but not fluctuating asymmetry in Swiss subalpine yellow dung flies. Alpine Entomology, 5:27-35.

Abstract

Evidence for selective disadvantages of large body size remains scarce in general. Previous studies of the yellow dung fly Scathophaga stercoraria have demonstrated strong positive sexual and fecundity selection on male and female size. Nevertheless, the body size of flies from a Swiss study population has declined by ~10% 1993–2009. Given substantial heritability of body size, this negative evolutionary response of an evidently positively selected trait suggests important selective factors being missed. An episodic epidemic outbreak of the fungus Entomophthora scatophagae permitted assessment of natural selection exerted by this fatal parasite. Fungal infection varied over the season from ~50% in the cooler and more humid spring and autumn to almost 0% in summer. The probability of dying from fungal infection increased with adult fly body size. Females never laid any eggs after infection, so there was no fungus effect on female fecundity beyond its impact on mortality. Large males showed their typical mating advantage in the field, but this positive sexual selection was nullified by fungal infection. Mean fluctuating asymmetry of paired appendages (legs, wings) did not affect the viability, fecundity or mating success of yellow dung flies in the field. This study documents rare parasite-mediated disadvantages of large-sized flies in the field. Reduced ability to combat parasites such as Entomophthora may be an immunity cost of large body size in dung flies, although the hypothesized trade-off between fluctuating asymmetry, a presumed indicator of developmental instability and environmental stress, and immunocompetence was not found here.

Abstract

Evidence for selective disadvantages of large body size remains scarce in general. Previous studies of the yellow dung fly Scathophaga stercoraria have demonstrated strong positive sexual and fecundity selection on male and female size. Nevertheless, the body size of flies from a Swiss study population has declined by ~10% 1993–2009. Given substantial heritability of body size, this negative evolutionary response of an evidently positively selected trait suggests important selective factors being missed. An episodic epidemic outbreak of the fungus Entomophthora scatophagae permitted assessment of natural selection exerted by this fatal parasite. Fungal infection varied over the season from ~50% in the cooler and more humid spring and autumn to almost 0% in summer. The probability of dying from fungal infection increased with adult fly body size. Females never laid any eggs after infection, so there was no fungus effect on female fecundity beyond its impact on mortality. Large males showed their typical mating advantage in the field, but this positive sexual selection was nullified by fungal infection. Mean fluctuating asymmetry of paired appendages (legs, wings) did not affect the viability, fecundity or mating success of yellow dung flies in the field. This study documents rare parasite-mediated disadvantages of large-sized flies in the field. Reduced ability to combat parasites such as Entomophthora may be an immunity cost of large body size in dung flies, although the hypothesized trade-off between fluctuating asymmetry, a presumed indicator of developmental instability and environmental stress, and immunocompetence was not found here.

Statistics

Citations

Altmetrics

Downloads

27 downloads since deposited on 14 Jan 2022
13 downloads since 12 months
Detailed statistics

Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
590 Animals (Zoology)
Scopus Subject Areas:Life Sciences > Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
Physical Sciences > Ecology
Life Sciences > Insect Science
Uncontrolled Keywords:Insect Science, Ecology, Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
Language:English
Date:11 June 2021
Deposited On:14 Jan 2022 05:15
Last Modified:26 Feb 2024 02:42
Publisher:Pensoft Publishers
ISSN:2535-0889
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.3897/alpento.5.65653
Project Information:
  • : FunderSchweizerischer Nationalfonds zur Förderung der Wissenschaftlichen Forschung
  • : Grant ID
  • : Project Title
  • Content: Published Version
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)