Evol Ecol Res 20: 505-522 (2019)     Full PDF if your library subscribes.

Urbanization drives phenotypic evolution in mosquitofish

Zachary T. Wood1, Caroline E. Booth1, Rebecca R. Robinson2, Rachel C. Van Gorden1,
Cowan J. Sikora1, Mitchell R. Paisker1, Eric P. Palkovacs2 & Michael T. Kinnison1

1School of Biology and Ecology, Ecology and Environmental Sciences Program, University of Maine, Orono, Maine, USA
2Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, California, USA

Z.T. Wood, School of Biology and Ecology, Ecology and Environmental Sciences Program, University of Maine, Orono, ME 04469, USA.
email: zachary.t.wood@maine.edu


Question: Urbanization can alter both the physical and biological dimensions of landscapes, potentially leading to novel environmental pressures, patterns of selection, and distinct phenotypes. Here we seek to understand how both physical and biological dimensions of urbanization interact to drive phenotypic evolution of mosquitofish morphology and behaviour against a backdrop of natural landscape drivers.

Study system: Western mosquitofish (Gambusia affinis) from 21 lakes of various sizes, eco-regions, introduced species regimes, and urban development levels in central California, USA.

Methods: We catch, measure, and observe the behaviour of wild mosquitofish. We examine the magnitude and direction of trait changes in relation to shoreline urban development and species introductions (predators and competitors). We also analyse trait variation that is associated with innate landscape attributes, including lake size and eco-region (desert or coast).

Results: Both physical and biological dimensions of urbanization – urban development and introductions of predators and competitors – lead to novel suites of mosquitofish traits associated with a niche shift towards sheltered fringe habitats. Effect sizes of urbanization on mosquitofish traits were comparable to those from innate landscape variables, suggesting that urbanization is a potent selective agent.

Keywords: Gambusia affinis, morphology, anthropogenic impacts, behaviour, environmental change, lake ecosystem alteration, introduced species.

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