Clines in life history traits, presumably driven by spatially varying selection, are widespread. Major latitudinal clines have been observed, for example, in Drosophila melanogaster, an ancestrally tropical insect from Africa that has colonized temperate habitats on multiple continents. Yet, how geographic factors other than latitude, such as altitude or longitude, affect life history in this species remains poorly understood. Moreover, most previous work has been performed on derived European, American and Australian populations, but whether life history also varies predictably with geography in the ancestral Afro-tropical range has not been investigated systematically. Here, we have examined life history variation among populations of D. melanogaster from sub-Saharan Africa. Viability and reproductive diapause did not vary with geography, but body size increased with altitude, latitude and longitude. Early fecundity covaried positively with altitude and latitude, whereas lifespan showed the opposite trend. Examination of genetic variance-covariance matrices revealed geographic differentiation also in trade-off structure, and QST -FST analysis showed that life history differentiation among populations is likely shaped by selection. Together, our results suggest that geographic and/or climatic factors drive adaptive phenotypic differentiation among ancestral African populations and confirm the widely held notion that latitude and altitude represent parallel gradients.
Africa South of the Sahara Altitude Animals Body Size/genetics Drosophila melanogaster/physiology* Female Fertility/genetics Genetic Variation* Genetics, Population* Selection, Genetic*