PRECS student projects

Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 2021


Polymorphism occurs when multiple, discrete phenotypes exist for a trait within the same species. Polyphenism, a form of phenotypic plasticity, occurs when the environment in which animals develop determines which discrete, morph is expressed. Color polymorphism occurs in male killifish anal fins where red, yellow, and blue color morphs are observed. Populations are found in both spring and swamp habitats. A polyphenism is present where males develop blue anal fins when raised in tea-stained water, which mimics swamps. My goal was to determine whether this plasticity is adaptive. Do blue males have an advantage in swamp water? Previous research involving killifish, Lucania goodei, has revealed the following: female mating preference does not act as the main driving force of male color polymorphism, blue male color morphs perform better in competitive interactions that occur in the absence of blue light, and behavioral and visual system responses to diurnal variation in light.


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Research was conducted with the cooperation of the Program in Ecology, Evolution and Conservation Biology and the Department of Evolution, Ecology and Behavior at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Financial support was provided by the National Science Foundation under grant #NSF REU 1950819/1950786, as part of the Phenotypic Plasticity Research Experience for Community College Students, through the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Institute for Genomic Biology and Parkland College.



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