Offspring number in a livebearing fish (Poecilia mexicana, Poeciliidae): reduced fecundity and reduced plasticity in a population of cave mollies
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- Riesch, R., Tobler, M., Plath, M. et al. Environ Biol Fish (2009) 84: 89. doi:10.1007/s10641-008-9392-0
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Life history traits within species often vary among different habitats. We measured female fecundity in mollies (Poecilia mexicana) from a H2S-rich cave and from a neighbouring surface habitat, as well as in laboratory-reared individuals of both populations raised in either light or continuous darkness. Compared to conspecifics from surface habitats, cave-dwelling P. mexicana had reduced fecundity (adjusted for size) in the field. In the laboratory, the fecundity of surface mollies was higher in light than in darkness, whereas fecundity in the cave mollies was almost unaffected by the ambient light conditions. Our results suggest a heritable component to the reduction in fecundity in female cave mollies. Moreover, the reduced plasticity in fecundity of cave mollies in response to light conditions might be an example of genetic assimilation or channelling of a life history trait in a population invading a new environment.