Previous studies have shown that two or three lineages of Enallagma damselflies, which historically coexisted with fish, recently invaded and adapted to living with large dragonfly predators in fishless waters. In adapting to live with these new predators, lineages shifted behaviorally to using swimming as an evasive tactic against attacking predators, evolved morphological features that made them faster swimmers, and evolved biochemical features to increase refueling strenuous activities like swimming. However, these habitat shifts have occurred in only one of the two primary clades within the genus in North America. Here, I show that clade-level differences exist among species in the ancestral, fish-lake habitat that should make habitat shifts easier to accomplish in the clade in which they have occurred. Specifically, fish-lake species in the clade in which habitat shifts occurred have much higher propensities to swim in the laboratory, swim faster when they do swim, and have higher mass-specific activities for arginine kinase than do species in the other primary clade, in which no extant species are found in fishless waters. These results are discussed in the context of the dynamics of founder events and the potential implications for community structure.
Editor: J. Losos