Correlated Evolution and Dietary Change in Fossil Stickleback

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Science  28 Sep 2007:
Vol. 317, Issue 5846, pp. 1887
DOI: 10.1126/science.1147337

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The importance of trophic ecology in adaptation and evolution is well known, yet direct evidence that feeding controls microevolution over extended evolutionary time scales, available only from the fossil record, is conspicuously lacking. Through quantitative analysis of tooth microwear, we show that rapid evolutionary change in Miocene stickleback was associated with shifts in feeding, providing direct evidence from the fossil record for changes in trophic niche and resource exploitation driving directional, microevolutionary change over thousands of years. These results demonstrate the potential for tooth microwear analysis to provide powerful insights into trophic ecology during aquatic adaptive radiations.

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