• Van Gossum, Hans
  • Robb, Tonia
  • Forbes, Mark R.
  • Rasmussen, L.


In several animal species, one male type coexists with two to several female types, a polymorphism often explained in the context of sexual selection. Where it occurs, one female morph typically resembles the conspecific male phenotype, but the degree of resemblance varies across species. Here, we question whether the degree of phenotypic similarity between male-like females and males varies within species. Phenotypic resemblance is hypothesized to depend on the potential for frequency- and density-dependent selection on male and (or) female phenotypes. We studied six populations of the damselfly Nehalennia irene (Hagen, 1861) that differed widely in estimates of morph frequency and male density. Male-like females resemble males more than another female type resembles males, across populations, when comparisons are based on abdominal patterns. Abdomen phenotype does matter in male–female interactions of damselflies. Furthermore, male-like females were more similar to males at low and high density sites compared with sites with intermediate densities, contrary to the hypothesis that the potential for male harassment influences the degree of phenotypic similarity. Additionally, male-like females of most populations converged on the abdominal phenotype of males of one population rather than on that of syntopic males; a problem that has not received any attention.