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Environmental factors associated with genetic and phenotypic divergence among sympatric populations of Arctic charr (Salvelinus alpinus)

By L.J. Corrigan, M.C. Lucas, I.J. Winfield and A.R. Hoelzel


The mechanisms by which phenotypic and genetic divergence may occur among sympatric, conspecific populations have been widely discussed but are still not well understood. Possible mechanisms include assortative mating based on morphology or variation in the reproductive behaviour of phenotypes, and both have been suggested to be relevant to the differentiation of salmonid populations in post-glacial lakes. Here, we studied Arctic charr (Salvelinus alpinus) in Windermere, where putative populations are defined by spatial and temporal variation in spawning. Genetic differentiation was assessed based on nine microsatellite loci, and phenotypic variation was assessed from morphometric characters. We test hypotheses about the relative role of morphology, spawning season and spawning habitat in the evolution of genetic divergence among these populations. Distinct from other lake systems, we find that both morphological and genetic differentiation are restricted primarily to one of two interconnecting basins, that genetic and morphological differentiation are decoupled in this lake and that both phenotype and environment have changed over the last 20 years. The implication is that breeding habitat plays a primary role in isolating populations that differentiate by drift and that phenotypically plastic changes, potentially related to foraging specializations, have either become secondarily decoupled from the genetically defined populations or were never fundamental in driving the evolution of genetic diversity in the Windermere system.\ud \u

Topics: Ecology and Environment
Year: 2011
DOI identifier: 10.1111/j.1420-9101.2011.02327.x
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