Jan 13, 2006

Character displacement as the "best of a bad situation": fitness trade-offs resulting from selection to minimize resource and mate competition

Evolution; International Journal of Organic Evolution
Karin S Pfennig, David W Pfennig


Character displacement has long been considered a major cause of adaptive diversification. When species compete for resources or mates, character displacement minimizes competition by promoting divergence in phenotypes associated with resource use (ecological character displacement) or mate attraction (reproductive character displacement). In this study, we investigated whether character displacement can also have pleiotropic effects that lead to fitness trade-offs between the benefits of avoiding competition and costs accrued in other fitness components. We show that both reproductive and ecological character displacement have caused spadefoot toads to evolve smaller body size in the presence of a heterospecific competitor. Although this shift in size likely arose as a by-product of character displacement acting to promote divergence between species in mating behavior and larval development, it concomitantly reduces offspring survival, female fecundity, and sexual selection on males. Thus, character displacement may represent the "best of a bad situation" in that it lessens competition, but at a cost. Individuals in sympatry with the displaced phenotype will have higher fitness than those without the displaced trait because th...Continue Reading

Mentioned in this Paper

Wandering Spleen
Male human body
Spea bombifrons
Competitive Behavior
Science of Morphology
Larval Development
Snout Structure (Body Structure)
Sexual Behavior, Animal

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