Send to

Choose Destination
Evolution. 2016 Feb;70(2):408-19. doi: 10.1111/evo.12852. Epub 2016 Jan 25.

Spatiotemporal environmental heterogeneity and the maintenance of the tailspot polymorphism in the variable platyfish (Xiphophorus variatus).

Author information

Division of Biology, Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas, 66506.
Division of Biology, Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas, 66506.


Genetic variation is critical for adaptive evolution. Despite its importance, there is still limited evidence in support of some prominent theoretical models explaining the maintenance of genetic polymorphism within populations. We examined 84 populations of Xiphophorus variatus, a livebearing fish with a genetic polymorphism associated with physiological performance, to test: (1) whether niche differentiation explains broad-scale maintenance of polymorphism, (2) whether polymorphism is maintained among populations by local adaptation and migration, or (3) whether heterogeneity in explicit environmental variables could be linked to levels of polymorphism within populations. We found no evidence of climatic niche differentiation that could generate or maintain broad geographic variation in polymorphism. Subsequently, hierarchical partitioning of genetic richness and partial mantel tests revealed that 76% of the observed genetic richness was partitioned within populations with no effect of geographic distance on polymorphism. These results strongly suggest a lack of migration-selection balance in the maintenance of polymorphism, and model selection confirmed a significant relationship between environmental heterogeneity and genetic richness within populations. Few studies have demonstrated such effects at this scale, and additional studies in other taxa should examine the generality of gene-by-environment interactions across populations to better understand the dynamics and scale of balancing selection.


Ecological selection; GxE interaction; melanism; niche conservatism; pigmentation; worldclim

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Loading ...
Support Center