Predicting the direction of ornament evolution in Trinidadian guppies (Poecilia reticulata)

Darrell J. Kemp, David N. Reznick, Gregory F. Grether, John A. Endler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

49 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Sexual selection is thought to be opposed by natural selection such that ornamental traits express a balance between these two antagonistic influences. Phenotypic variation among populations may indicate local shifts in this balance, or that different stable 'solutions' are possible, but testing these alternatives presents a major challenge. In the guppy (Poecilia reticulata), a small freshwater fish with male-limited ornamental coloration, these issues can be addressed by transplanting fish among sites of varying predation pressure, thus effectively manipulating the strength and nature of natural selection. Here, we contrast the evolutionary outcome of two such introductions conducted in the Trinidadian El Cedro and Aripo Rivers. We use sophisticated colour appraisal methods that account for full spectrum colour variation and which incorporate the very latest visual sensitivity data for guppies and their predators. Our data indicate that ornamentation evolved along different trajectories: whereas Aripo males evolved more numerous and/or larger orange, black and iridescent markings, El Cedro males only evolved more extensive and brighter iridescence. Examination of the El Cedro experiment also revealed little or no ornamental evolution at the control site over 29 years, which contrasts markedly with the rapid (approx. 2-3 years) changes reported for introduction populations. Finally, whole colour-pattern analysis suggested that the greatest visual difference between El Cedro introduction and control fish would be perceived by the two most salient viewers: guppies and the putatively dangerous predator Crenicichla alta. We discuss whether and how these evolutionary trajectories may result from founder effects, population-specific mate preferences and/or sensory drive.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4335-4343
Number of pages9
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Volume276
Issue number1677
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 22 Dec 2009

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