Adding parasites to the guppy-predation story: insights from field surveys
Gotanda, Kiyoko M × Delaire, Lari C Raeymaekers, Joost AM Perez-Jvostov, Felipe Dargent, Felipe Bentzen, Paul Scott, Marilyn E Fussmann, Gregor F Hendry, Andrew P #
Oecologia vol:172 issue:1 pages:155-166
Studies of phenotypic variation in nature often consider only a single potential selective agent. In such cases, it remains an open question as to whether variation attributed to that single measured agent might be influenced by some other unmeasured agent. Previous research has shown that phenotypic variation in the Trinidadian guppy (Poecilia reticulata) is strongly influenced by predation regime, and we here ask whether parasitism might represent an additional important selective agent shaping this variation. We performed a field survey of 26 natural guppy populations of known predation regime in northern Trinidad. We quantified levels of parasitism of guppies by the monogenean ecotoparasite, Gyrodactylus, and examined whether this parasite was associated with guppy body size or male colour. Spatial variation in Gyrodactylus parasitism was consistent between years, and parasite prevalence was generally, but not always, higher at high-predation sites than at low-predation sites. Consistent with previous work, predation regime was related to guppy size and some aspects of male colour, whereas parasitism showed few and only minor associations with the same traits. Moreover, a consideration of parasitism did not alter any interpretations regarding associations between guppy traits and predation regimes. These results suggest that parasitism, at least as quantified in the present study, does not play a major role in shaping variation in guppy body size or colour. Nevertheless, considerable variation in these traits, even within a predation regime, suggests the likely importance of other selective agents beyond just predation regime.