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Ecology Shapes Evolution and Evolution can Shape Ecology
Some 300 to 500 years ago the damming of the Connecticut streams stranded some alewife herring in inland lakes which resulted in changes of the alewife and well as critters that feed on them such as water fleas.

Alewives, which typically swim up rivers to spawn in the spring and give birth to offspring that live the first few months in the river before swimming down into Long Island Sound and finally the Atlantic Ocean, were stranded in the lakes created by settlers during Colonial times. The alewives adapted to live year-round in the lakes and have smaller mouths and gills that have changed through natural selection to make them better able to eat smaller plankton that are common in the lakes. These changes in turn drove genetic changes

The water fleas, also known as daphnia, are a type of crustacean that feed on algae that might otherwise cloud up inland lakes. Normal alewives are voracious eater of daphnia, but with the smaller mouths of lake alewives they do not eat as much daphnia resulting in genetic changes in the rates of population growth of the daphnia. Daphnia are also present in lakes year round as well and since they are less likely to be eaten, their intense need to reproduce has diminished along with the need to feed on algae.

The evolutionary changes of both species has resulted in one noticeable result; cloudier water each spring.

 
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One of the Curses of Lake Management - Eurasian Milfoil - Supervisor Dennis Faber, who also is a commissioner of the Camp/Center Lakes Rehabilitation District, said conventional wisdom going into this spring and summer was that the heavy snowfall of this year — including on frozen lakes — would mean less milfoil on local lakes. The actual experience, at least on Camp and Center lakes, was the opposite.


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