BEACON's Idelle Cooper featured in Current Biology

Idelle Cooper catching damselfies in HawaiiThe latest edition of Current Biology has a very positive and extensive overview of Idelle Cooper’s research on the adaptive significance of a color dimorphism within female “Beautiful Hawaiian damselflies.”  The overview is available here.   It contrasts Charles Darwin’s view that differences between the sexes are probably the result of sexual (social) selection, with Alfred Russell Wallace’s view that they are probably the result of differences in ecological (viability) selection, and marks Cooper’s research as a significant contribution to the Wallace perspective.  Cooper’s findings are consistent with Wallace’s view that, in this system at least, color differences represent local adaptations to differences in ecological selection by UV radiation.  The red pigment in these damselflies has anti-oxidant, UV protective properties.  Males, which defend sunny territories, and those females that have little shade in their environment are red.  Females that can shelter in the shade, at lower elevations, are green.  Color morph differences are genetically determined.   Cooper is collaborating with Tom Getty and Chris Klausmeier on a BEACON-funded project examining rapid evolution of the color dimorphism in response to global change that is expected to increase the intensity of UV radiation as a selective agent.
Female morphs of M. calliphya
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