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Repeatability of standard metabolic rate and gas exchange characteristics in a highly variable cockroach, Perisphaeria sp.

Marais E. ; Chown S.L. (2003)


For natural selection to take place several conditions must be met, including consistent variation among individuals. Although this assumption is increasingly being explored in vertebrates, it has rarely been investigated for insect physiological traits, although variation in these traits is usually assumed to be adaptive. We investigated repeatability (r) of metabolic rate and gas exchange characteristics in a highly variable Perisphaeria cockroach species. Although this species shows four distinct gas exchange patterns at rest, metabolic rate (r=0.51) and the bulk of the gas exchange characteristics (r=0.08-0.91, median=0.42) showed high and significant repeatabilities. Repeatabilities were generally lower in those cases where the effects of body size were removed prior to estimation of r. However, we argue that because selection is likely to act on the trait of an animal of a given size, rather than on the residual variation of that trait once size has been accounted for, size correction is inappropriate. Our results provide support for consistency of variation among individuals, which is one of the prerequisites of natural selection that is infrequently tested in insects.

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