Contemporary parallel diversification, antipredator adaptations and phenotypic integration in an aquatic isopod.

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Abstract

It is increasingly being recognized that predation can be a strong diversifying agent promoting ecological divergence. Adaptations against different predatory regimes can emerge over short periods of time and include many different traits. We studied antipredator adaptations in two ecotypes of an isopod (Asellus aquaticus) that have, diverged in parallel in two Swedish lakes over the last two decades. We quantified differences in escape speed, morphology and behavior for isopods from different ecotypes present in these lakes. Isopods from the source habitat (reed) coexist with mainly invertebrate predators. They are more stream-profiled and have higher escape speeds than isopods in the newly colonized stonewort habitat, which has higher density of fish predators. Stonewort isopods also show more cautious behaviors and had higher levels of phenotypic integration between coloration and morphological traits than the reed isopods. Colonization of a novel habitat with a different predation regime has thus strengthened the correlations between pigmentation and morphology and weakened escape performance. The strong signature of parallelism for these phenotypic traits indicates that divergence is likely to be adaptive and is likely to have been driven by differences in predatory regimes. Furthermore, our results indicate that physical performance, behavior and morphology can change rapidly and in concert as new habitats are colonized.

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  • Biological Sciences
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere6173
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume4
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes