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Integr Comp Biol. 2012 Dec;52(6):814-27. doi: 10.1093/icb/ics118. Epub 2012 Sep 18.

Phenotypic plasticity and integration in the mangrove rivulus (Kryptolebias marmoratus): a prospectus.

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Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL 35487, USA.


The mangrove rivulus (Kryptolebias marmoratus) is a small fish native to mangrove ecosystems in Florida, the Caribbean, Central America, and South America. This species is one of only two self-fertilizing, hermaphroditic vertebrates capable of producing offspring that are genetically identical to both the parent and all siblings. Long bouts of selfing result in individuals with completely homozygous genotypes, effectively allowing for the production of "clones." Rivulus is also extremely sensitive to environmental change, both during development and adulthood. Life-history traits, behavior, physiology, morphology, and even sexual phenotype are shaped to a large extent by the interaction of genes with the environment, and many of these traits appear to co-vary. True reaction norms can be generated for this species in much the same way as has been done for clonally reproducing invertebrates and plants that have contributed immensely to our understanding of the evolution of phenotypic plasticity. That is, rivulus provides the opportunity to place individuals with identical genotypes in many different environments at any point during ontogeny or adulthood. In addition, rivulus populations are characterized by high genotypic diversity, a luxury not afforded by many clonal vertebrates, which allows us to evaluate variation among genotypes in the shape of reaction norms and in patterns of covariance among traits. We provide background information on phenotypic plasticity and phenotypic integration, coupled with a description of characteristics that we feel qualify rivulus as a potentially powerful model in which to study the evolution of reaction norms and covariance among traits.

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