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Morphological and reproductive variation among populations of the Pacific molly

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In viviparous organisms, pregnant females typically experience an increase in body mass and body volume. In this study, the prediction that variation in reproductive traits among populations of viviparous organisms should be related to variation among populations in body shape was tested in the Pacific molly Poecilia butleri, a viviparous fish that inhabits western Mexico and northern Central America. Variation among 10 populations in four reproductive traits was examined: brood size, individual embryo mass, total reproductive allotment and degree of maternal provisioning of nutrients to developing embryos. Variation among these populations in body shape was also examined. Significant variation among populations was observed in both brood size and reproductive allotment but not in embryo mass or degree of maternal provisioning. Significant variation among populations was also observed in body shape. After correcting for female size, however, reproductive traits and body shape were not associated among populations. This suggests that selective pressures acting on reproduction do not necessarily affect morphology and vice versa. Several factors might contribute to this unexpected lack of association between reproductive traits and morphology.

Document Type: Regular Paper


Publication date: 2011-10-01

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