The tempo and mode of three-dimensional morphological evolution in male reproductive structures

Mark A. McPeek, Li Shen, John Z. Torrey, Hany Farid

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

109 Scopus citations


Various evolutionary forces may shape the evolution of traits that influence the mating decisions of males and females. Phenotypic traits that males and females use to judge the species identify of potential mates should evolve in a punctuated fashion, changing significantly at the time of speciation but changing little between speciation events. In contrast, traits experiencing sexual selection or sexually antagonistic interactions are generally expected to change continuously over time because of the directional selection pressures imposed on one sex by the actions of the other. To test these hypotheses, we used spherical harmonic representations of the shapes of male mating structures in reconstructions of the evolutionary tempo of these structures across the history of the Enallagma damselfly clade. Our analyses show that the evolution of these structures is completely consistent with a punctuated model of evolutionary change and a constant evolutionary rate throughout the clade's history. In addition, no interpopulation variation in shape was detected across the range of one species. These results indicate that male mating structures in this genus are used primarily for identifying the species of potential mates and experience little or no selection from intraspecific sexual selection or sexual antagonism. The implications of these results for speciation are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E158-E178
JournalAmerican Naturalist
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2008


  • Mating structures
  • Morphological evolution
  • Punctuated change
  • Reproductive isolation
  • Spherical harmonics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology

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