Data from: Spatially heterogeneous selection in nature favors phenotypic plasticity in anuran larvae
Van Buskirk, Josh (2017), Data from: Spatially heterogeneous selection in nature favors phenotypic plasticity in anuran larvae, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.7c09m
Theory holds that adaptive phenotypic plasticity evolves under spatial or temporal variation in natural selection. I tested this prediction in a classic system of predator-induced plasticity: frog tadpoles (Rana temporaria) reacting to predaceous aquatic insects. An outdoor mesocosm experiment manipulating exposure to Aeshna dragonfly larvae revealed plasticity in most characters: growth, development, behavior, and external morphology. I measured selection by placing 1927 tadpoles into enclosures within natural ponds; photographs permitted identification of the survivors 6–9 days later. Fitness was defined as a linear combination of growth, development, and survival that correlates with survival to age 2 in another anuran species. In enclosures with many predators, selection favored character values similar to those induced by exposure to Aeshna in mesocosms. The shift in selection along the predation gradient was strongest for characters that exhibited high predator-induced plasticity. A field survey of 50 ponds revealed that predator density changes over a spatial scale relevant for movement of individual adults and larvae: 17% of variation in predation risk was among ponds separated by tens to thousands of meters and 81% was among sites ≤10m apart within ponds. These results on heterogeneity in the selection regime confirm a key tenant of the standard model for the evolution of plasticity.