Featured research (2)
Examples of parallel evolution have been crucial for our understanding of adaptation via natural selection. However, strong parallelism is not always observed even in seemingly similar environments where natural selection is expected to favour similar phenotypes. Leveraging this variation in parallelism within well-researched study systems can provide insight into the factors that contribute to variation in adaptive responses. Here we analyse the results of 36 studies reporting 446 average trait values in Trinidadian guppies, Poecilia reticulata, from different predation regimes. We examine how the extent of predator-driven phenotypic parallelism is influenced by six factors: sex, trait type, rearing environment, ecological complexity, evolutionary history, and time since colonization. Analyses show that parallel evolution in guppies is highly variable and weak on average, with only 24.7% of the variation among populations being explained by predation regime. Levels of parallelism appeared to be especially weak for colour traits, and parallelism decreased with increasing complexity of evolutionary history (i.e., when estimates of parallelism from populations within a single drainage were compared to estimates of parallelism from populations pooled between two major drainages). Suggestive - but not significant - trends that warrant further research include interactions between the sexes and different trait categories. Quantifying and accounting for these and other sources of variation among evolutionary 'replicates' can be leveraged to better understand the extent to which seemingly similar environments drive parallel and nonparallel aspects of phenotypic divergence.
A number of examples exist of trade-offs between mating success and survival; that is, success in one fitness component comes at the cost of success in the other fitness component. However, these expected trade-offs are – perhaps even more commonly – not observed. One explanation for this apparent paradox of missing trade-offs could be that the other factors generating fitness variation across individuals confound or obscure the expected trade-off. These confounding effects could arise in two general ways: (i) the additional source of variation could positively (or negatively) influence both fitness components (“shared confounder” hypothesis), or (ii) the additional source of variation could influence only one fitness component (“non-shared confounder” hypothesis). We tested whether parasitism by Gyrodactylus spp. could be a confounder of trade-offs between female preference and susceptibility to predation for male Trinidadian guppies (Poecilia reticulata). As in previous work, we did not find the expected trade-off; that is, the males preferred by females were not more likely to be eaten by predators. Because half of the experimental males were infected by Gyrodactylus in a paired design, we were able to show that females discriminated against infected males, but that infected males were not more susceptible to predation. Our results thus provide support for the non-shared confounder hypothesis. That is, by negatively affecting one fitness component (female choice) but not the other (susceptibility to predation), parasitism by Gyrodactylus could obscure the expected trade-off between female preference and susceptibility to predation.