Ecological causes of morphological evolution in the three-spined stickleback.

TitleEcological causes of morphological evolution in the three-spined stickleback.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsSpence R, Wootton RJ, Barber I, Przybylski M, Smith C
JournalEcology and evolution
Volume3
Issue6
Pagination1717-26
Date Published2013 Jun
Abstract

The central assumption of evolutionary theory is that natural selection drives the adaptation of populations to local environmental conditions, resulting in the evolution of adaptive phenotypes. The three-spined stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus) displays remarkable phenotypic variation, offering an unusually tractable model for understanding the ecological mechanisms underpinning adaptive evolutionary change. Using populations on North Uist, Scotland we investigated the role of predation pressure and calcium limitation on the adaptive evolution of stickleback morphology and behavior. Dissolved calcium was a significant predictor of plate and spine morph, while predator abundance was not. Stickleback latency to emerge from a refuge varied with morph, with populations with highly reduced plates and spines and high predation risk less bold. Our findings support strong directional selection in three-spined stickleback evolution, driven by multiple selective agents.

DOI10.1242/bio.20133988
Alternate JournalEcol Evol