Divergent walleye (Sander vitreus)-mediated inducible defenses in the centrarchid pumpkinseed sunfish (Lepomis gibbosus)


E-mail: berenrob@uoguelph.ca


Predation has important ecological and evolutionary consequences. Evolutionary responses to diversifying selection include genetic differentiation, the evolution of adaptive phenotypic plasticity, and the genetic differentiation of plastic responses between populations. We tested if pumpkinseed sunfish (Lepomis gibbosus) respond to predation cues by changing their external body form in functionally sensible ways. We then asked whether predation has influenced the divergence of coexisting littoral and pelagic ecomorphs, by testing for divergent predator-induced responses. Juvenile L. gibbosus of both ecomorphs were reared with and without predation cues supplied by walleye (Sander vitreus) feeding on L. gibbosus. Predation cues stimulated increased body depth and dorsal spine length, but no increase in anal spine length or pectoral fin size. The dorsal spines of pelagic ecomorphs also grew longer than did those of littoral ecomorphs, while positive body depth responses were similar in both ecomorphs. This is the second fish taxa in which predator-induced morphological responses have been found, and the first in which divergent responses have been detected between ecomorphs. This suggests that the developmental systems of L. gibbosus ecomorphs have diverged under selection related to predation. We propose that other ‘resource polymorphisms’ in fishes have evolved under selection arising from a variety of factors, including predation, and not just selection related to resource use. © 2007 The Linnean Society of London, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2007, 90, 25–36.