Predation Risk Influences Adaptive Morphological Variation in Fish Populations

Eklöv, Svanbäck
2006 American Naturalist  
Predators can cause a shift in both density and frequency of a prey phenotype that may lead to phenotypic divergence through natural selection. What is less investigated is that predators have a variety of indirect effects on prey that could potentially have large evolutionary responses. We conducted a pond experiment to test whether differences in predation risk in different habitats caused shifts in behavior of prey that, in turn, would affect their morphology. We also tested whether the
more » ... ed whether the experimental data could explain the morphological variation of perch in the natural environment. In the experiment, predators caused the prey fish to shift to the habitat with the lower predation risk. The prey specialized on habitat-specific resources, and there was a strong correlation between diet of the prey fish and morphological variation, suggesting that resource specialization ultimately affected the morphology. The lack of differences in competition and mortality suggest that the morphological variation among prey was induced by differences in predation risk among habitats. The field study demonstrated that there are differences in growth related to morphology of perch in two different habitats. Thus, a trade-off between foraging and predator avoidance could be responsible for adaptive morphological variation of young perch.
doi:10.2307/3844765 pmid:16673351 fatcat:buk3asofvzau7p5ycb6lmnfmia