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Interpopulation variation in a fish predator drives evolutionary divergence in prey in lakes.


Ecological factors are known to cause evolutionary diversification. Recent work has shown that evolution in strongly interacting predator species has reciprocal impacts on ecosystems. These divergent impacts of predators may alter the selective landscape and cause the evolution of prey. Yet, this link between intraspecific variation and evolution is unexplored. We compared the life history of a species of zooplankton (Daphnia ambigua) from lakes in New England in which the dominant planktivorous predator, the alewife (Alosa pseudoharengus), differs in feeding traits and migratory behaviour. Anadromous alewife (seasonal migrants) exhibit larger gapes, gill-raker spacing and target larger prey than landlocked alewife (year-round freshwater resident). In 'anadromous' lakes, Daphnia are abundant in the spring but extirpated by alewife predation in summer. Daphnia are rare year-round in 'landlocked' lakes. We show that Daphnia from lakes with anadromous alewife grew faster, matured earlier but at the same size and produced more offspring than Daphnia from lakes with landlocked or no alewife across multiple temperature and resource treatments. Our results are inconsistent with a response to size-selective predation but are better explained as an adaptation to colder temperatures and shorter periods of development (countergradient variation) mediated by seasonal alewife predation.