Differential susceptibility to food stress in neonates of sexual and asexual mollies (Poecilia, Poeciliidae)
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- Tobler, M. & Schlupp, I. Evol Ecol (2010) 24: 39. doi:10.1007/s10682-008-9288-7
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The maintenance of sex is still an evolutionary puzzle given its immediate costs. Stably coexisting complexes of asexually and sexually reproducing forms allow to study mechanisms that balance the costs and benefits of both asexual and sexual reproduction. Here, we tested whether coexisting asexual and sexual fish of the genus Poecilia differed in neonate mortality when exposed to environmental stress in the form of fluctuating temperatures and food deprivation. We find that asexual Amazon mollies, Poecilia formosa, are significantly more sensitive to food stress than their sexual relative Poecilia latipinna, but both are equally unaffected by variable temperatures. Differences in the susceptibility to environmental stress may contribute to diminishing the asexuals’ benefits of a higher intrinsic population growth rate and thus mediate stable coexistence of the two reproductive forms.