In ongoing research to record the interaction of environment and evolution, a team led by University of California, Riverside biologist David Reznick has found new information illustrating the evolution of a population of guppies. Working in a river in Trinidad, the researchers, including Reznick’s former graduate student Swanne P. Gordon and two undergraduates working in his lab, determined which male guppies would contribute more offspring to the population as well as which would live longer and which would have a shorter lifespan. “We’re detailing how evolution happens,” Reznick, a distinguished professor of biology, said. “Usually people look at evolution as change over time but they don’t know the details of how it changes.”
The findings, which appeared online Aug. 19 in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, show how real time evolution can be resolved into differences among fathers in siring sons, which could be attributed to how successful the father is in finding mates or how long he lives. It also shows how evolution can link these differences to heritable individual attributes. “People think of evolution as historical. They don’t think of it as something that’s happening under our nose. It is a contemporary process. People are skeptical; they don’t believe in evolution because they can’t see it. Here, we see it. We can see if something makes you better able to make babies and live longer,” Reznick said.