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A male and female guppy in a natural stream in Trinidad.
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Courtesy of Paul Bentzen

Evolution Impacts Environment, Study Finds

Ecosystems have an impact on how living things evolve. And evolution has an impact on ecosystems too.

Scientists have discovered the evolution of small fish called guppies affects the streams in which they live.

They compared two streams on the island of Trinidad. Guppies lived in both streams, but they weren’t the only fish in there. One stream had many types of fish. Some of these fish ate guppies. The other stream had only a few types of fish and none of these fish ate guppies.

The guppies that lived in these two streams were different too. They had adapted to eat different food. Guppies from the stream with lots of fish ate more insect larvae. Guppies from the other stream ate more algae. Scientists found that the streams changed because the guppies ate different foods. The stream with guppies eating insect larvae had more algae and fewer larvae than the other stream. So different sorts of guppies can change their ecosystems in different ways.

Guppies eating different foods had other effects on streams too. They caused differences in nutrients in the streams and differences in the plants. Now the scientists are going to try to figure out how changes to ecosystems affect how guppies adapt.

Last modified May 20, 2010 by Lisa Gardiner.

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