Morphological divergence between three Arctic charr morphs - the significance of the deep-water environment.
Morphological divergence was evident among three sympatric morphs of Arctic charr (Salvelinus alpinus (L.)) that are ecologically diverged along the shallow-, deep-water resource axis in a subarctic postglacial lake (Norway). The two deep-water (profundal) spawning morphs, a benthivore (PB-morph) and a piscivore (PP-morph), have evolved under identical abiotic conditions with constant low light and temperature levels in their deep-water habitat, and were morphologically most similar. However, they differed in important head traits (e.g., eye and mouth size) related to their different diet specializations. The small-sized PB-morph had a paedomorphic appearance with a blunt head shape, large eyes, and a deep body shape adapted to their profundal lifestyle feeding on submerged benthos from soft, deep-water sediments. The PP-morph had a robust head, large mouth with numerous teeth, and an elongated body shape strongly related to their piscivorous behavior. The littoral spawning omnivore morph (LO-morph) predominantly utilizes the shallow benthic– pelagic habitat and food resources. Compared to the deep-water morphs, the LO-morph had smaller head relative to body size. The LO-morph exhibited traits typical for both shallow-water benthic feeding (e.g., large body depths and small eyes) and planktivorous feeding in the pelagic habitat (e.g., streamlined body shape and small mouth). The development of morphological differences within the same deep-water habitat for the PB- and PP-morphs highlights the potential of biotic factors and ecological interactions to promote further divergence in the evolution of polymorphism in a tentative incipient speciation process. The diversity of deep-water charr in this study represents a novelty in the Arctic charr polymorphism as a truly deep-water piscivore morph has to our knowledge not been described elsewhere. Geometric morphometrics, incipient speciation, phenotypic diversity, profundal piscivore, resource polymorphism, salmonid
PublisherJohn Wiley & Sons Ltd.
CitationEcology and Evolution 5(2015) nr. 15 s. 3114-3129
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