|Does ecology promote sexual dimorphism in the Pecos pupfish (Cyprinodon pecosensis)?
Melissa D. Smith, Carol Martin Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science in Kentucky; Western Kentucky University
Michael L. Collyer, Department of Biology, Western Kentucky University
Pupfishes in the genus, Cyprinodon, are renowned for their ability to survive in variable, and sometimes harsh, North American desert aquatic environments. Because desert aquatic environments are so variable in temperature, salinity, and species composition, the range of ecologies pupfishes encounter is quite remarkably diverse. One species, the Pecos pupfish (Cyrpinodon pecosensis) has a large distribution with populations in large rivers, small creeks, sinkholes, marshes, and lakes, all varying in salinity and species composition. Recent studies have shown for pupfishes and other desert fishes that physical constraints such as salinity and ecological constraints such as predation can influence streamlining in fishes. However, sexual dimorphism in pupfishes because of body deepening in males is frequently observed, suggesting that natural selection and sexual selection are at odds. In the current study, we compare body shape between males and females within different habitats of the broad-ranging C. pecosensis, to determine if there is an obvious ecological explanation for variation in sexual dimorphism. Our results suggest that the magnitude and direction of sexual dimorphism is difficult to predict based on gross ecological descriptions of habitats. In a broader context, the interplay between natural selection and sexual selection might be an explanation for the recent adaptive radiation of pupfishes.