, Volume 74, Issue 2, pp 239-244

Parallel Evolution, not Always so Parallel: Comparison of Small Benthic Charr, Salvelinus alpinus, from Grímsnes and Thingvallavatn, Iceland

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Synopsis

Iceland is unique in terms of geologically young freshwater systems and rapid adaptations of fresh water fishes to diverse habitats, e.g. lava with ground water flow. Iceland has six species of freshwater fishes, including Arctic charr, Salvelinus  alpinus. Previous research has shown great diversity within this species. Four different morphs of Arctic charr are found in one lake, Thingvallavatn, including a small benthivorous charr. Similar populations of small benthic charr are known from several other Icelandic freshwater locations, including Nautavakir in Grímsnes. Our comparison of the small benthic charr morphs in Thingvallavatn and in Grímsnes showed that they are similar in morphology but distinguishable in several characteristics. Small benthic charr in Grímsnes and Thingvallavatn demonstrate similar adaptations and are an example of parallel evolution. However, subtle morphological differences between them indicate further specialized adaptations at each location.