• The evolution of cannibalism in Lake Minnewaska

      O’Brien, Brenna (2020-05)
      Cannibalism is the evolutionary anomaly where an organism consumes individuals of the same species. Through literature analysis, the conditions that foster cannibalism are introduced and explained with principles of evolution. The different types of cannibalism are identified with examples that cover a variety of invertebrate and vertebrate organisms. The cultural and biological evolution of cannibalistic practices observed in humans are also discussed. The scope of cannibalism and its adaptations are narrowed by case studies of fish, and specifically the largemouth bass. An experimental design was proposed by the Richardson lab in order to determine the health of largemouth bass in the New York lake, Lake Minnewaska. The largemouth bass were the only fish species to inhabit Lake Minnewaska since 2014, so the health of this population was determined from data acquired by mark and recapture, scale analysis, and standard measurement techniques. The relatively stable population trends and below average growth of the largemouth bass were consistent with the literature on cannibalistic largemouth bass and supported the hypothesis that cannibalism was an evolutionarily adaptive means of survival for the largemouth bass in Lake Minnewaska. The evolution of cannibalistic practices under starvation environments was exemplified in the largemouth bass population of Lake Minnewaska and may be used to understand the state of natural ecosystems.