Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 59, Issue 4, pp 461–468 | Cite as

Kin and population recognition in sympatric Lake Constance perch (Perca fluviatilis L.): can assortative shoaling drive population divergence?

  • Jasminca Behrmann-Godel
  • Gabriele Gerlach
  • Reiner Eckmann
Original Article


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.


Kin recognition Population recognition Kin structure Microsatellites Relatedness 



We thank Louis Bernatchez, Vincent Castric and Jelle Atema for discussion and comments and Khalid Belkhir for providing a special version of IDENTIX to calculate relatedness in subsamples. We further thank two anonymous referees whose comments greatly improved the manuscript. Funding was provided by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft within the collaborative research centre SFB 454, Littoral of Lake Constance, the “Fonds der Chemischen Industrie”, the University of Konstanz, and the “Konrad Adenauer-Stiftung”. We declare that the experiments we have presented here comply with the current laws of Germany.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jasminca Behrmann-Godel
    • 1
  • Gabriele Gerlach
    • 2
  • Reiner Eckmann
    • 1
  1. 1.Limnological InstituteUniversity of KonstanzKonstanzGermany
  2. 2.Marine Biological LaboratoryWoods HoleUSA

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