LOCAL ADAPTATION AND THE EVOLUTION OF PHENOTYPIC PLASTICITY IN TRINIDADIAN GUPPIES (POECILIA RETICULATA)

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Abstract

Divergent selection pressures across environments can result in phenotypic differentiation that is due to local adaptation, phenotypic plasticity, or both. Trinidadian guppies exhibit local adaptation to the presence or absence of predators, but the degree to which predator-induced plasticity contributes to population differentiation is less clear. We conducted common garden experiments on guppies obtained from two drainages containing populations adapted to high- and low-predation environments. We reared full-siblings from all populations in treatments simulating the presumed ancestral (predator cues present) and derived (predator cues absent) conditions and measured water column use, head morphology, and size at maturity. When reared in presence of predator cues, all populations had phenotypes that were typical of a high-predation ecotype. However, when reared in the absence of predator cues, guppies from high- and low-predation regimes differed in head morphology and size at maturity; the qualitative nature of these differences corresponded to those that characterize adaptive phenotypes in high- versus low-predation environments. Thus, divergence in plasticity is due to phenotypic differences between high- and low-predation populations when reared in the absence of predator cues. These results suggest that plasticity might initially play an important role during colonization of novel environments, and then evolve as a by-product of adaptation to the derived environment.

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