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Award Abstract #0416085

The Evolution of Placentas in the Poeciliid Fishes: An Empirical Study of the Evolution of Complexity

Division of Environmental Biology
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Initial Amendment Date: August 24, 2004
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Latest Amendment Date: April 9, 2009
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Award Number: 0416085
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Award Instrument: Continuing grant
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Program Manager: Nancy J. Huntly
DEB Division of Environmental Biology
BIO Directorate for Biological Sciences
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Start Date: September 1, 2004
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End Date: August 31, 2010 (Estimated)
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Awarded Amount to Date: $844,004.00
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Investigator(s): David Reznick gupy@ucrac1.ucr.edu (Principal Investigator)
Theodore Garland (Co-Principal Investigator)
Mark Springer (Co-Principal Investigator)
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Sponsor: University of California-Riverside
Office of Research
RIVERSIDE, CA 92521-1000 (951)827-5535
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Systematics & Biodiversity Sci,
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Program Reference Code(s): 1171, 9169, 9229, EGCH, 1355, 9178, 9251, SMET, 1174
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Program Element Code(s): 1127, 1171, 1174, 7374, 7377


David Reznick + Michael Ghedotti DEB-0416085 + 0415633 Abstract

The Evolution of Placentas in the Poeciliid Fishes: An Empirical Study of the Evolution of Complexity

The placenta is a complex organ that is a composite of many adaptations that must be well integrated for proper function. David Reznick and Michael Ghedotti will study the evolution of the placenta in the fish family Poeciliidae. They will develop a "family tree", based on DNA sequence and morphology, to determine if the placenta evolved independently on different branches and to define groups of species that do or do not have the placenta. Experiments on 30 species of those fish that are closely related and have different forms of maternal provisioning will test the predictions of a recent theory for the evolution of the placenta. Working together, the biologists will provide insights to refine the theory, while theoreticians will provide insights to suggest new lines of experimental inquiry.

In the Origin of Species, Darwin included a chapter entitled "Difficulties on Theory", considering the most serious challenges to the theory of evolution by natural selection. One was the origin of complex organs: it seemed improbable that evolution could integrate many traits at once. He proposed that complexity could evolve by small steps if each represented an adaptation. These fish provide an opportunity to test Darwin's proposition. The research will also offer multidisciplinary training for students, be relevant to several fields of biology, and present a case study in evolution.


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Olendorf, R. F. Helen Rodd, David Punzalan, Anne E. Houde, Carla Hurt, David N. Reznick & Kimberly A. Hughes. "Frequency-dependent survival in natural guppy populations," Nature, v.441, 2006.

Pires, M. N., K. McBride*, D. N. Reznick. "Interpopulation Variation in Life-History Traits of Poeciliopsis prolifica: Implications for the Study of Placental Evolution," J. Exp. Zoology, v.307A, 2007.

Ghalambor, C. K., J. K. McKay, S. P. Carroll, and D. N. Reznick. "Adaptive versus non-adaptive phenotypic plasticity and the potential for adaptation to new environments," Functional Ecology, v.21, 2007.

D. Reznick, M. Bryant. "Comparative Long-Term Mark-Recapture Studies of Guppies (Poecilia reticulata): Differences Among High and Low Predation Localities in Growth and Survival," Annals Zoologica Fennici, v.44, 2007.

Bryant, MJ; Reznick, D. "Comparative studies of senescence in natural populations of guppies," AMERICAN NATURALIST, v.163, 2004, p. 55. 

Hughes, KA; Rodd, FH; Reznick, DN. "Genetic and environmental effects on secondary sex traits in guppies (Poecilia reticulata)," JOURNAL OF EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGY, v.18, 2005, p. 35.   

Lawton, BR; Sevigny, L; Obergfell, C; Reznick, D; O'Neill, RJ; O'Neill, MJ. "Allelic expression of IGF2 in live-bearing, matrotrophic fishes," DEVELOPMENT GENES AND EVOLUTION, v.215, 2005, p. 207.   

Reznick, DN; Ghalambor, CK. "Can commercial fishing cause evolution? Answers from guppies (Poecilia reticulata)," CANADIAN JOURNAL OF FISHERIES AND AQUATIC SCIENCES, v.62, 2005, p. 791.   

Reznick, DN; Ghalambor, CK. "Selection in nature: Experimental manipulations of natural populations," INTEGRATIVE AND COMPARATIVE BIOLOGY, v.45, 2005, p. 456. 

Walker, JA; Ghalambor, CK; Griset, OL; McKenney, D; Reznick, DN. "Do faster starts increase the probability of evading predators?," FUNCTIONAL ECOLOGY, v.19, 2005, p. 808.   

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David Reznick. "The Origin Then and Now: An interpretive guide to the Origin of Species", 09/01/2008-08/31/2009,  2009, "Princeton University Press, Princeton NJ".

David Reznick. "The Origin Then and Now: An interpretive guide to the Origin of Species", 09/01/2009-08/31/2010,  2009, "Princeton University Press, Princeton NJ".


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