Evol Ecol Res 7: 801-819 (2005)     Full PDF if your library subscribes.

Trophic plasticity and fine-grained resource variation in populations of western mosquitofish, Gambusia affinis

Clifton B. Ruehl* and Thomas J. DeWitt

Department of Wildlife & Fisheries Sciences and Sustainable Coastal Margins Program, Texas A&M University, 2258 TAMU, College Station, TX 77843-2258, USA

Address all correspondence to Clifton B. Ruehl, Department of Biological Sciences (OE 167), Florida International University, Miami, FL 33199, USA.
e-mail: clifton.ruehl@fiu.edu


Hypothesis: Fish will exhibit morphological plasticity in response to how (food type: live vs. attached food) and where (orientation: surface, mid-water, benthic) they are fed. Fine-grained resource variation (daily rotation of orientations) will produce intermediate morphologies. Population differences will reflect responses to both predators and resources.

Organism: Offspring from two populations of western mosquitofish (Gambusia affinis).

Experiment: A factorial design of 16 treatments: 4 (3 static orientations + 1 rotating diet) × 2 (food types) × 2 (populations) replicated three times.

Methods: We raised fish in the different diet treatments for 60 days. Morphology was characterized using geometric morphometric techniques. Multivariate analysis of covariance, visualizations and multiple regressions were used to assess morphological variation.

Conclusions: Responses to how and where fish fed resembled general morphological paradigms across species and may be adaptive. Fine-grained resource variation produced intermediate and unique shape effects. Population differences appeared to be related to trophic and predation ecology.

Keywords: ecomorphology, fine-scale resource variation, foraging ecology, geometric morphometrics, induced morphology, population differentiation, resource polymorphism, trophic plasticity.

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        © 2005 C.B. Ruehl and T.J. DeWitt. All EER articles are copyrighted by their authors. All authors endorse, permit and license Evolutionary Ecology Ltd. to grant its subscribing institutions/libraries the copying privileges specified below without additional consideration or payment to them or to Evolutionary Ecology, Ltd. These endorsements, in writing, are on file in the office of Evolutionary Ecology, Ltd. Consult authors for permission to use any portion of their work in derivative works, compilations or to distribute their work in any commercial manner.

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