When Evolution Is Not So Slow And Gradual
By SCIENCE DAILY
Added: Tue, 02 Jun 2009 23:00:00 UTC
Thanks to Scott for the link.
A new article in The American Naturalist finds that guppy populations introduced into new habitats developed new and advantageous traits in just a few years. This is one of only a few studies to look at adaptation and survival in a wild population.
A research team led by Swanne Pamela Gordon from the University of California, Riverside studied 200 guppies that had been taken from the Yarra River in Trinidad and introduced into two different environments in the nearby Damier River, which previously had no guppies. One Damier environment was predator-free. The other contained fish that occasionally snack on guppies.
Eight years after their introduction, the team revisited the Damier guppies to see what adaptive changes they might have picked up in their new environments. The researchers found that the females had altered their reproductive effort to match their surroundings. In the environment where predators were present, females produced more embryos each reproductive cycle. This makes sense because where predators abound, one might not get a second chance to reproduce. In less dangerous waters, females produced fewer embryos each time, thus expending fewer resources on reproduction.
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