Natural selection plays an important role in the evolution of sexual communication systems. Here, we assess the effect of two well-known selection agents, transmission environment and predation, on interpopulation variation in sexual signals. Our model system is a series of 21 populations of Bahamian mosquitofish subjected to independent variation in optical conditions and predation risk. We show that optically diverse environments, caused by locally variable dissolved organic carbon concentrations, rather than spatial variation in predation, drove divergence in fin coloration (fin redness). We found a unimodal pattern of phenotypic variation along the optical gradient indicating a threshold-type response of visual signals to broad variation in optical conditions. We discuss evolutionary and ecological mechanisms that may drive such a pattern as well as the implications of non-monotonic clines for evolutionary differentiation.
Electronic supplementary material is available online at https://dx.doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.c.3719854.
- Received January 25, 2017.
- Accepted March 7, 2017.
- © 2017 The Author(s)
Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.