University Of Tasmania

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Maintenance of colour polymorphism in the leaf beetle Chrysophtharta agricola (Chapuis) (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae: Paropsini)

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-16, 13:24 authored by Nahrung, HF, Geoff AllenGeoff Allen
Intra-specific colour differences in insects may occur as a result of environmental factors such as food type, temperature and humidity, or may be under genetic control. These colour polymorphisms may result in fitness differences through several mechanisms, including mate selection, camouflage from or warning to natural enemies, and heat absorption. Two colour morphs of adult Chrysophtharta agricola (Chapuis) (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae: Paropsini) are present in the field in mainland Australia and Tasmania: a common green-brown form, and a rare black form. Tasmanian populations were sampled to assess the frequency of each morph at eight localities. The black form represented less than 3% of beetles (N=1724), with the proportion not significantly different between localities. Crossing tests using the two colour morphs of C. agricola showed that the black form was genetically dominant over the common form. To assess whether colour morphs had any fitness differences, we measured pre-oviposition period, fecundity, longevity, adult size and egg hatch rate, which each showed no significant difference between colour morphs. Field sampling of mating pairs and rearing the offspring of field-collected females showed no evidence of non-random mating. Modelling the population over 100 generations confirmed that for this species, melanism is controlled by a dominant but neutral allele, and, thus, is maintained at a constant low level in the population.


Publication title

Journal of Natural History








Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture (TIA)


Taylor & Francis Ltd

Place of publication

Abingdon, England

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Hardwood plantations