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Evolutionary implications of large-scale patterns in the ecology of Trinidadian guppies,Poecilia reticulata

Biological Journal of the Linnean Society
Wiley Blackwell (Blackwell Publishing)
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1006/bijl.2000.0519
  • Trinidadian Guppy – Reproductive Isolation – Local Adaptation – Diversity – Pollution
  • Ecology


Abstract Previous investigations of the guppy, Poecilia reticulata, in Trinidad have demonstrated rapid population differentiation at small geographic scales. However, most studies to date have focused on localities in Trinidad's Northern Range where barrier water falls mark sharp discontinuities in the selection regime and limit scope for gene flow. There is little information on the ecology of the guppy in the rest of the island even though its distribution amongst fish communities and habitats has important evolutionary implications. To determine how large-scale distribution patterns might affect the evolutionary potential of the guppy we surveyed 80 sites representative of a broad range of freshwater environments. We found guppies, which occurred in 80% of our samples, to be the most widely distributed freshwater fish in Trinidad. Guppies are common in predator-rich and turbid habitats, precisely those localities where female preferences are likely to be undermined. Moreover, the widespread distribution of this adaptable species, combined with its promiscuous mating system, may promote gene flow across geographical scales that transcend local selection regimes. These factors are likely to impede the evolution of reproductive isolation.

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