SPATIOTEMPORAL VARIATION IN LINEAR NATURAL SELECTION ON BODY COLOR IN WILD GUPPIES (POECILIA RETICULATA)

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Abstract

We conducted 10 mark–recapture experiments in natural populations of Trinidadian guppies to test hypotheses concerning the role of viability selection in geographic patterns of male color variation. Previous work has reported that male guppies are more colorful in low-predation sites than in high-predation sites. This pattern of phenotypic variation has been theorized to reflect differences in the balance between natural (viability) selection that disfavors bright male color (owing to predation) and sexual selection that favors bright color (owing to female choice). Our results support the prediction that male color is disfavored by viability selection in both predation regimes. However, it does not support the prediction that viability selection against male color is weaker in low-predation experiments. Instead, some of the most intense bouts of selection against color occurred in low-predation experiments. Our results illustrate considerable spatiotemporal variation in selection among experiments, but such variation was not generally correlated with local patterns of color diversity. More complex selective interactions, possibly including the indirect effects of predators on variation in mating behavior, as well as other environmental factors, might be required to more fully explain patterns of secondary sexual trait variation in this system.

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