Ecosystem size predicts eco-morphological variability in a postglacial diversification

Recknagel, H. , Hooker, O. E., Adams, C. E. and Elmer, K. R. (2017) Ecosystem size predicts eco-morphological variability in a postglacial diversification. Ecology and Evolution, 7(15), pp. 5560-5570. (doi: 10.1002/ece3.3013)

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Identifying the processes by which new phenotypes and species emerge has been a long-standing effort in evolutionary biology. Young adaptive radiations provide a model to study patterns of morphological and ecological diversification in environmental context. Here, we use the recent radiation (ca. 12k years old) of the freshwater fish Arctic charr (Salvelinus alpinus) to identify abiotic and biotic environmental factors associated with adaptive morphological variation. Arctic charr are exceptionally diverse, and in postglacial lakes there is strong evidence of repeated parallel evolution of similar morphologies associated with foraging. We measured head depth (a trait reflecting general eco-morphology and foraging ecology) of 1,091 individuals across 30 lake populations to test whether fish morphological variation was associated with lake bathymetry and/or ecological parameters. Across populations, we found a significant relationship between the variation in head depth of the charr and abiotic environmental characteristics: positively with ecosystem size (i.e., lake volume, surface area, depth) and negatively with the amount of littoral zone. In addition, extremely robust-headed phenotypes tended to be associated with larger and deeper lakes. We identified no influence of co-existing biotic community on Arctic charr trophic morphology. This study evidences the role of the extrinsic environment as a facilitator of rapid eco-morphological diversification.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Elmer, Professor Kathryn and Adams, Professor Colin and Recknagel, Mr Hans
Authors: Recknagel, H., Hooker, O. E., Adams, C. E., and Elmer, K. R.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Biodiversity, One Health & Veterinary Medicine
Journal Name:Ecology and Evolution
ISSN (Online):2045-7758
Published Online:15 June 2017
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2017 The Authors
First Published:First published in Ecology and Evolution 7(15):5560-5570
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
612331GEN ECOL ADAPT: Adaptation genomics of trophic polymorphismKathryn ElmerEuropean Commission (EC)321999RI BIODIVERSITY ANIMAL HEALTH & COMPMED