Kin and population recognition in sympatric Lake Constance perch (Perca fluviatilis L.): can assortative shoaling drive population divergence?
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- Behrmann-Godel, J., Gerlach, G. & Eckmann, R. Behav Ecol Sociobiol (2006) 59: 461. doi:10.1007/s00265-005-0070-3
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Prior studies have shown that perch (Perca fluviatilis L.) of Lake Constance belong to two genetically different but sympatric populations and that local aggregations of juveniles and adults contain closely related kin. In this study, we analysed the genetic structure of pelagic perch larvae to investigate if kin-structured shoals already exist during early ontogenetic development or might be the result of homing to natal sites. Analysis of the gene frequencies at five microsatellite loci revealed that three out of five pelagic aggregations of larvae showed significant accumulation of kin. To investigate possible mechanisms of shoal formation, we tested if perch use olfactory cues to recognize their kin. Choice tests in a fluviarium showed preference for odours of unfamiliar kin vs unfamiliar non-kin. Additionally, we showed that perch could differentiate between the odours of the two sympatric populations and significantly preferred unfamiliar and unrelated conspecifics of their own over the foreign population. Our results present a behavioural mechanism that can lead to the observed formation of kin-structured shoals in perch. We further discuss if the ability to discriminate between their own and a foreign population can result in assortative mating within populations and thus form the basis of “socially mediated speciation” in perch.