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Life-History Evolution in Guppies (Poecilia reticulata) 6. Differential Mortality as a Mechanism for Natural Selection

David N. Reznick, Mark J. Butler IV, F. Helen Rodd and Patrick Ross
Evolution
Vol. 50, No. 4 (Aug., 1996), pp. 1651-1660
DOI: 10.2307/2410901
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2410901
Page Count: 10
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Life-History Evolution in Guppies (Poecilia reticulata) 6. Differential Mortality as a Mechanism for Natural Selection
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Abstract

We have previously reported a correlation between the life-history patterns of guppies and the types of predators with which they coexist. Guppies from localities with an abundance of large predators (high predation localities) mature at an earlier age and devote more resources to reproduction than those found in localities with only a single, small species of predator (low predation localities). We also found that when guppies were introduced from a high to low predation locality, the guppy life history evolved to resemble what was normally found in this low predation locality The presumed mechanism of natural selection is differences among localities in age/size-specific mortality (the age/size-specific mortality hypothesis); in high predation localities we assumed that guppies experienced high adult mortality rates while in the low predation localities we assumed that guppies experienced high juvenile mortality rates. These assumptions were based on stomach content analyses of wild-caught predators and on laboratory experiments. Here, we evaluate these assumptions by directly estimating the mortality rates of guppies in natural populations. We found that guppies from high predation localities experience significantly higher mortality rates than their counterparts from low predation localities, but that these higher mortality rates are uniformly distributed across all size classes, rather than being concentrated in the larger size classes. This result appears to contradict the predictions of the age/size-specific predation hypothesis. However, we argue, using additional data on growth rates and the probabilities of survival to maturity in each type of locality, that the age-specific mortality hypothesis remains plausible. This is because the probability of survival to first reproduction is very similar in each type of locality, but the guppies from high predation localities have a much lower probability of survival per unit time after maturity. We also argue for the plausibility of two other mechanisms of natural selection. These results thus reveal mortality patterns that provide a potential cause of natural selection, but expand, rather than narrow, the number of possible mechanisms responsible for life-history evolution in guppies.

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