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Population genetics and ecology of range limits and the evolution of mate preferences in damselflies

Damselflies (Odonata: Zygoptera) are charismatic diurnal insects which are ectotherms and consequently highly affected by ongoing climate change and increasing temperatures in Northern Europe. We study geographic variation in phenotypic traits and behaviours in Southern Sweden and Scandinavia, and adress the question if gene flow keeps marginal populations at range limits mal-adapted to their current environments. We are also interested in the mechanisms by which sexual isolation might develop or be maintained between populations and species. We combine molecular work (microsattelites) with field experiments on male and female mate preferences, how they develop and if they are mainly genetic or if they also show phenotypic plasticity, e. g. through learning. We study the role and mechanisms of learning, both through field and laboratory experiments and through theoretical analyses, using neural networks.

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