[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT:
Recent adaptive radiations offer special insight into the processes that generate biodiversity. The loss of unique members of such radiations undermines their collective evolutionary potential, as well as the ability of scientists to compare divergent populations, thereby devaluing the entire radiation as a system of study. To illustrate our case, we consider the adaptive radiation of the threespine stickleback fish (Gasterosteus aculeatus) in light of anthropogenic threats. Specifically, we consider the effects of stocking with rainbow trout, Onchorynchus mykiss, on populations of stickleback in lakes of two types in the Cook Inlet Region of Alaska, USA: (1) those in which salmonids are native and (2) those historically devoid of predatory fish. Many populations in this second class exhibit reduced pelvic armor that is, in part, a consequence of the historical absence of piscine predators that prey upon stickleback. Long-term trapping data from 77 lakes show that stocking in lakes where trout are not native is associated with large fluctuations in stickleback abundance, relative to lakes in which trout are native, or to lakes in which trout are neither native nor stocked. Pelvic-reduced populations appear to be at most risk from stocking. We discuss how these populations have responded to, and may yet respond to such threats, and how the information we have on these populations can be used to identify evolutionarily significant units (ESUs: Ryder, 1986), and certainly, distinct populations segments (DPSs:
 and ) deemed worthy of protection under Section 3(15) of the 1973 US Endangered Species Act as amended in 1978. Finally, we consider relevance of our results to the conservation of other recent adaptive radiations.