Document Type


Publication Date




Publication Title

American Naturalist, 157(2), 126-140








Prior research has demonstrated a strong association between the species of predators that co-occur with guppies and the evolution of guppy life histories. The evolution of these differences in life histories has been attributed to the higher mortality rates experienced by guppies in high-predation environments. Here, we evaluate whether there might be indirect effects of predation on the evolution of life-history patterns and whether there are environmental differences that are correlated with predation. To do so, we quantified features of the physical and chemical environment and the population biology of guppies from seven high-and low-predation localities. We found that high-predation environments tend to be larger streams with higher light levels and higher primary productivity, which should enhance food availability for guppies. We also found that guppy populations from high-predation environments have many more small individuals and fewer large individuals than those from low-predation environments, which is caused by their higher birth rates and death rates. Because of these differences in size distribution, guppies from high-predation environments have only one-fourth of the biomass per unit area, which should also enhance food availability for guppies in these localities. Guppies from high-predation sites allocate more resources to reproduction, grow faster, and attain larger asymptotic sizes, all of which are consistent with higher levels of resource availability. We conclude that guppies from high-predation environments experience higher levels of resource availability in part because of correlated differences in the environment (light levels, primary productivity) and in part as an indirect consequence of predation (death rates and biomass density). These differences in resource availability can, in turn, augment the effect of predator-induced mortality as factors that shape the evolution of guppy life-history patterns. We found no differences in the invertebrate communities from high- and low-predation localities, so we conclude that there do not appear to be multitrophic, indirect effects associated with these differences in predation.

Original Publication Citation

Reznick, D., Butler, M.J., & Rodd, H. (2001). Life-history evolution in guppies. VII. The comparative ecology of high- and low-predation environments. American Naturalist, 157(2), 126-140. doi: 10.1086/318627