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Data from: The evolution of eye size in response to increased fish predation in Daphnia

Cite this dataset

Beston, Shannon Marie; Dudycha, Jeffry L.; Post, David M.; Walsh, Matthew R. (2020). Data from: The evolution of eye size in response to increased fish predation in Daphnia [Dataset]. Dryad.


Variation in eye size is ubiquitous across taxa. Increased eye size is correlated with improved vision and increased fitness via shifts in behavior. Tests of the drivers of eye size evolution have focused on macroevolutionary studies evaluating the importance of light availability. Predator-induced mortality has recently been identified as a potential driver of eye size variation. Here we tested the influence of increased predation by the fish predator, the alewife (Alosa pseudoharengus) on eye size evolution in waterfleas (Daphnia ambigua) from lakes in Connecticut. We quantified the relative eye size of Daphnia from lakes with and without alewife using wild-caught and third generation laboratory reared specimens. This includes comparisons between lakes where alewife are present seasonally (anadromous) or permanently (landlocked). Wild-caught specimens did not differ in eye size across all lakes. However, third generation lab reared Daphnia from lakes with alewife, irrespective of the form of alewife predation, exhibited significantly larger eyes than Daphnia from lakes without alewife. This genetically based increase in eye size may enhance the ability of Daphnia to detect predators. Alternatively, such shifts in eye size may be an indirect response to Daphnia aggregating at the bottom of lakes. To test these mechanisms, we collected Daphnia as a function of depth and found that eye size differed in Daphnia found at the surface versus the bottom of the water column between anadromous alewife and no alewife lakes. However, we found no evidence of Daphnia aggregating at the bottom of lakes. Such results indicate that the evolution of a larger eye may be explained by a connection between eyes and enhanced survival. We discuss the cause of the lack of concordance in eye size variation between our phenotypic and genetic specimens and the ultimate drivers of eye size.

Usage notes


National Science Foundation, Award: DEB-1544356, IOS-1651613, DEB-1556848