Colour polymorphism in the sea snake Emydocephalus annulatus

Richard Shine, Greg Brown & Claire Goiran
Evolutionary theory suggests that polymorphic traits can be maintained within a single population only under specific conditions, such as negative frequency-dependent selection or heterozygote advantage. Non-venomous turtle-headed sea snakes (Emydocephalus annulatus) living in shallow bays near Noumea in New Caledonia exhibit three colour morphs: black, black-and-white banded, and an intermediate (grey-banded) morph that darkens with age. We recorded morph frequencies during 18 consecutive years of surveys, and found that the numbers of recruits (neonates plus...
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