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Flat Reaction Norms and "Frozen" Phenotypic Variation in Clonal Snails (Potamopyrgus antipodarum)

Jukka Jokela, Curtis M. Lively, Jennifer A. Fox and Mark F. Dybdahl
Evolution
Vol. 51, No. 4 (Aug., 1997), pp. 1120-1129
DOI: 10.2307/2411041
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2411041
Page Count: 10
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Flat Reaction Norms and "Frozen" Phenotypic Variation in Clonal Snails (Potamopyrgus antipodarum)
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Abstract

The Frozen Niche-Variation hypothesis (FNV) suggests that clones randomly sample and 'freeze' the genotypes of their ancestral sexual populations. Hence, each clone expresses only a fraction of the total niche-use variation observed in the sexual population, which may lead to selection for ecological specialization and coexistence of clones. A generalized form of the FNV model suggests that the same is true for life-history (as well as other) traits that have important fitness consequences, but do not relate directly to niche use. We refer to the general form of the model as the Frozen Phenotypic Variation (FPV) model. A mixed population of sexual and parthenogenetic snails (Potamopyrgus antipodarum) in a New Zealand lake allowed us to examine the phenotypic variation expressed by coexisting clones in two benthic habitats, and to compare that variation to the sexual population. Three clones were found primarily in an aquatic macrophyte zone composed of Isoetes kirkii (1.5-3.0 m deep), and three additional clones were found in a deeper macrophyte zone composed of Elodea canadensis (4.0-6.0 m deep). These clones showed significant variation between habitats, which mirrored that observed in the sexual population. Specifically, clones and sexuals from the deeper habitat matured at a larger size and had larger broods. There was also significant among-clone variation within habitats; and as expected under the FPV model, the within-clone coefficients of variation for size at maturity were low in both habitats when compared to the sexual population. In addition, we found four clones that were common in both macrophyte zones. The reaction norms of these clones were flat across habitats, suggesting little phenotypic plasticity for morphology or life-history traits. Flat reaction norms, high among-clone variation, and low coefficients of variation (relative to the sexual population) are in accordance with the FPV model for the origin of clonal lineages. We also measured the prevalence of infection by trematode larvae to determine whether clones are inherently more or less infectable, or whether they are freezing phenotypic variation for resistance from the sexual population. We did this in the deep habitats of the lake where recycling of the parasite by the vertebrate host is unlikely, thereby reducing the complications raised by frequency-dependent responses of parasites to host genotypes. We found no indication that clones are either more or less infectable than the resident sexual population. Taken together, our results suggest that phenotypic variation for both life-history traits and resistance to parasites is frozen by clones from the local sexual population.

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