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Data from: Life histories as mosaics: plastic and genetic components differ among traits that underpin life-history strategies

Cite this dataset

Felmy, Anja et al. (2022). Data from: Life histories as mosaics: plastic and genetic components differ among traits that underpin life-history strategies [Dataset]. Dryad.


Life-history phenotypes emerge from clusters of traits that are the product of genes and phenotypic plasticity. If the impact of the environment differs substantially between traits, then life histories might not evolve as a cohesive whole.

We quantified the sensitivity of components of the life history to food availability, a key environmental difference in the habitat occupied by contrasting ecotypes, for 36 traits in fast-and slow-reproducing Trinidadian guppies. Our dataset included six putatively independent origins of the slow-reproducing, derived ecotype.

Traits varied substantially in plastic and genetic control. Twelve traits were influenced only by food availability (body lengths, body weights), five only by genetic differentiation (inter-birth intervals, offspring sizes), ten by both (litter sizes, reproductive timing), and nine by neither (fat contents, reproductive allotment). Ecotype-by-food interactions were negligible. The response to low food was aligned with the genetic difference between high- and low-food environments, suggesting that plasticity was adaptive.

The heterogeneity among traits in environmental sensitivity and genetic differentiation reveals that the components of the life history may not evolve in concert. Ecotypes may instead represent mosaics of trait groups that differ in their rate of evolution.


Please find this information in the manuscript and supporting information.

Usage notes

This file contains the ancestral drainage and locality, ecotype, experimental food treatment, maternal identity, sex, and measured life-history traits of 1178 second-generation laboratory-reared Trinidadian guppies. It also specifies the dataset each individual was part of. While 33 traits were analysed in the manuscript (focal traits), eleven merely served to compute the focal traits and were not analysed themselves. A number of values were set to NA because they may contain measurement errors (i.e., negative values for fat contents and inter-birth intervals): 1 for somfat, 1 for fat, 4 for mnembfat1, 9 for mnembfat2, 19 for mnembfat3, and 1 for intrvl2. Please read the README file that accompanies the data file; it explains the column headers. Additional information can be found in Table 3 in the main manuscript, as well as in the Supporting Information.

The ecotype designation of populations is based on an assessment of the predator communities at each locality, with high-predation sites being characterised by a fast pace of reproduction and low-predation sites by a slower pace. Assessments of localities as being either high- or low-predation were based on visual censuses made when the guppy progenitors for the fish in our experiments were collected. On the south-slope rivers (El Cedro – dataset 1, Oropuche – dataset 4) many of the predators are diurnal and easily enumerated. On the north-slope rivers (Curaguate, Madamas, Marianne, Paria, Yarra – datasets 2, 3, and 4) the gobies (Gobimorous dormitor and Eleotris pisonis) are key fish predators that are crepuscular or nocturnal and hence may not be seen during censuses performed during the day. The mountain mullet (Agonostomus monticula) is readily seen during the day. Its presence was often treated as diagnostic of a high-predation community. Recent, more detailed assessments of the fish communities of the Marianne River revealed that the upstream limit of the gobies was downstream from what were designated as high-predation localities in our research, which casts some doubt on the high- versus low-predation designations in this stream. We have few formal estimates of guppy mortality rates in the north-slope streams comparable to those done in south-slope streams, where these estimates complement visual censuses by demonstrating higher guppy mortality rates in high-predation communities. More field work is required to fully characterise the fish communities in the north slope streams, which is why some of the datasets used here were previously unpublished.