Skip to main content

Data from: Behavioral diversity is maintained by a conditional strategy in a freshwater zooplankton


Meyer, G. Adam; Nelson, William A. (2019), Data from: Behavioral diversity is maintained by a conditional strategy in a freshwater zooplankton, Dryad, Dataset,


Many populations have intraspecific diversity in phenotype and ecological strategy, but the mechanisms maintaining such diversity are not fully understood. Multiple behaviors can be maintained either as a conditional strategy, where fitness depends on an individual’s phenotype, or as a mixed strategy where alternative behaviors have similar fitness independent of phenotype. Using high-resolution depth and time sampling, we characterize two distinct diel vertical migration behaviors in a population of freshwater zooplankton (Daphnia pulicaria). Individuals in this population differ in their color phenotype and migratory behavior with red morphs upregulating hemoglobin and undergoing a deep migration, and pale morphs not producing hemoglobin and undergoing a shallow migration. We experimentally manipulated the behavior of each phenotype in the field, and measured population growth in their natural migration behavior as well as population growth in their alternative behaviors. Experimental populations of pale and red morphs under their natural migrations had roughly equal fitness, despite vast differences in environmental conditions. When forced to switch behaviors, pale morphs suffered reduced fitness, whereas red morphs had similar fitness compared to their natural migration. Our results suggest that while behavioral diversity may be promoted by the opportunity for alternative behaviors of equal fitness, the distinct physiological conditions required for survival in alternative behaviors limit the capacity for individual behavioral switching and likely maintain behavioral diversity as a conditional strategy.

Usage notes