Skip to main content
Dryad logo

Data from: An experimental investigation of how intraspecific competition and phenotypic plasticity can promote the evolution of novel, complex phenotypes

Citation

Levis, Nicholas (2020), Data from: An experimental investigation of how intraspecific competition and phenotypic plasticity can promote the evolution of novel, complex phenotypes, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.1jwstqjs3

Abstract

Intraspecific competition has long been considered a key driver of evolutionary diversification, but whether it can also promote evolutionary innovation is less clear. We examined the interplay between competition and phenotypic plasticity in fueling the origins of a novel, complex phenotype––a distinctive carnivore morph found in spadefoot toad tadpoles (genus Spea) that specializes on fairy shrimp. We specifically sought to explore the possible origins of this phenotype by providing shrimp to Scaphiopus holbrookii tadpoles (the sister genus to Spea that does not produce carnivores) while subjecting them to competition for their standard diet of detritus.  Previous research had shown that this species will eat shrimp when detritus is limited, and that these shrimp-fed individuals produce features that are redolent of a rudimentary Spea carnivore. In this study, we found that: 1) behavioral and morphological plasticity enabled some individuals to expand their diet to include shrimp; 2) there was heritable variation in this plasticity; and 3) individuals received a growth and development benefit by eating shrimp. Thus, novel resource use can arise via plasticity as an adaptive response to intraspecific competition. More generally, our results show how competition and plasticity may interact to pave the way for the evolution of complex, novel phenotypes, such as the distinctive carnivore morph in present-day Spea.

Funding

National Science Foundation, Award: DEB-1643239,DEB 1753865