A dimorphic pattern of macrocephalic (wide, short) and stenocephalic (narrow, long) body shapes is observed in snail-feeding carabid beetles globally. The former exhibits high performance in crushing snail shells with powerful jaws, whereas the latter specializes in eating snails' soft body directly by inserting the head into the shell. In the snail-feeding species Damaster blaptoides, the subspecies D. b. capito has a wide, short forebody, and D. b. fortunei has a narrow, long forebody. They exhibit distinct morphologies despite their geographic and phylogenetic proximity. To examine the genetic basis of the morphological differences between these two subspecies, we conducted quantitative genetic analyses by crossing these subspecies and producing F 1 and backcross hybrids. The hybrids had body shapes intermediate between the parental subspecies. The variation between wide, short and narrow, long forebodies was based on negative genetic correlations between width and length of the head and thorax. Between one and eight genetic factors were involved in the morphological differences between subspecies. We suggest that the morphological integration of forebody parts in a small number of loci has facilitated the marked morphological diversification between subspecies of D. blaptoides.
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