A Complex Performance Landscape for Suction-Feeding Reveals Constraints and Adaptations in a Population of Reef Damselfish

Tal Keren, Moshe Kiflawi, Christopher H Martin, Victor China, Ofri Mann, Roi Holzman

Research output: Working paper/PreprintPreprint


The ability to predict how multiple traits interact in determining performance is key to understanding the evolution of complex functional systems. Similar to Simpson’s adaptive landscape, which describes the fitness consequences of varying morphological traits, performance landscapes depict the performance consequences of varying morphological traits. Mapping the population’s location with respect to the topographic features of the landscape could inform us on the selective forces operating on the traits that underlie performance. Here, we used a mechanistic model derived from first principles of hydrodynamics to construct a hypothetical performance landscape for zooplankton prey capture using suction feeding. We then used the landscape to test whether a population of Chromis viridis, a coral reef zooplanktivore, is located on a performance peak or ridge based on measurements of kinematic variables recorded in-situ during undisturbed foraging. Observed trait combinations in the wild population closely matched regions of high feeding performance in the landscape, however the population was not located on a local performance peak. This sub-optimal performance was not due to constraints stemming from the observed trait correlations. The predominant directions of variation of the phenotypic traits was tangent to the ‘path of steepest ascent’ that points towards the local peak, indicating that the population does not reside on a textquotedblleftperformance ridgetextquotedblright. Rather, our analysis suggests that feeding performance is constrained by stabilizing selection, possibly reflecting a balance between selection on feeding performance and mechanical or genetic constraints.
Original languageEnglish GB
StatePublished - 2017

Publication series

PublisherCold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press


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