, Volume 140, Issue 1, pp 36–45 | Cite as

The influence of swimming demand on phenotypic plasticity and morphological integration: a comparison of two polymorphic charr species

Population Ecology


In northern freshwater lakes, several fish species have populations composed of discrete morphs, usually involving a divergence between benthic and limnetic morphs. Although it has been suggested that swimming demand plays an important role in morphological differentiation, thus influencing habitat selection, it is unclear how it affects reaction norms, patterns in character correlation, and levels of morphological integration. We examined whether swimming demand could induce morphological plasticity in the directions expected under divergent habitat selection, and evaluated its influence on the morphological integration in Arctic charr (Salvelinus alpinus) and brook charr (S. fontinalis), two congeneric species exhibiting conspicuous and subtle resource polymorphism, respectively. We found that changes in morphology were induced by differential swimming demands in both species. The length of the pectoral fin was the character that responded most strongly according to the predicted morphological expectations under divergent habitat selection. High levels of morphological plasticity, relatively low levels of integration, and differences found in the morphological correlation structure among water velocity treatments suggest that constraints on morphological change are unlikely in either species, thus allowing great potential for phenotypic flexibility in both species. The magnitude of character integration, however, was larger for Arctic charr than for brook charr. This latter result is discussed in the light of the differences in the level of polymorphism between the two species in the wild. The results of the present study indicate that swimming demand alone may not be sufficient to generate the polymorphism encountered in nature. Given that both diet and swimming demands can induce morphological changes, it would be important to conduct experiments targeting the interaction between the morphological modules related to trophic and swimming demands.


Charr Morphological integration Phenotypic plasticity Polymorphism Swimming ability 


  1. Adams CE, Woltering C, Alexander G (2003) Epigenetic regulation of trophic morphology through feeding behaviour in Arctic char, Salvelinus alpinus. Biol J Linn Soc 78:43–49CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Aitchinson J (1986) The statistical analysis of compositional data. Chapman and Hall, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  3. Andersson J (2003) Effects of diet-induced resource polymorphism on performance in Arctic char (Salvelinus alpinus). Evol Ecol Res 5:213–228Google Scholar
  4. APHA (American Public Health Association), American Water Work Association, and Water Pollution Control Federation (1989) Standard methods for the examination of water and wastewater, 17th edn. APHA Press, WashingtonGoogle Scholar
  5. Armbruster WS, Di Stilio VS, Tuxill JD, Flores TC, Runk JLV (1999) Covariance and decoupling of floral and vegetative traits in nine neotropical plants: A re-evaluation of Berg’s correlation-pleiades concept. Am J Bot 86:39–55Google Scholar
  6. Badyaev AV, Foresman KR (2000) Extreme environmental change and evolution: stress-induced morphological variation is strongly concordant with patterns of evolutionary divergence in shrew mandibles. Proc R Soc Lond B 267:371–377CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Berg RL (1960) The ecological significance of correlation pleiades. Evolution 14:171–180Google Scholar
  8. Bourke P, Magnan P, Rodriguez MA (1997) Individual variations in habitat use and morphology in brook charr. J Fish Biol 51:783–794CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bourke P, Magnan P, Rodríguez, MA (1999) Phenotypic responses of lacustrine brook charr in relation to the intensity of interspecific competition. Evol Ecol 13:19-31CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cheverud JM (1995) Morphological integration in the saddle-back tamarin (Saguinus fuscicollis) cranium. Am Nat 145:63–89CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cheverud JM, Wagner GP, Dow MM (1989) Methods for the comparative-analysis of variation patterns. Syst Zool 38:201–213Google Scholar
  12. Day T, Pritchard J, Schluter D (1994) A comparison of two sticklebacks. Evolution 48:1723–1734Google Scholar
  13. Dobzhansky T (1970) Genetics of the evolutionary process, 1st edn. Columbia University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  14. Drucker EG, Lauder G (2003) Function of pectoral fins in rainbow trout: behavioral repertoire and hydrodynamic forces. J Exp Biol 206:813–826CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Dynes J, Magnan P, Bernatchez L, Rodriguez MA (1999) Genetic and morphological variation between two forms of lacustrine brook char. J Fish Biol 54:955–972CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. East P, Magnan P (1987) The effect of locomotor activity on the growth of brook char, Salvelinus fontinalis Mitchill. Can J Zool 65:843–846Google Scholar
  17. Efron B, Tibshirani RJ (1993) An introduction to the bootstrap. Chapman & Hall, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  18. Fleming IA, Jonsson B, Gross MR (1994) Phenotypic divergence of sea-ranched, farmed, and wild salmon. Can J Fish Aquat Sci 51: 2808–2824Google Scholar
  19. Herrera CM, Cerda X, Garcia MB, Guitian J, Medrano M, Rey PJ, Sanchez-Lafuente AM (2002) Floral integration, phenotypic covariance structure and pollinator variation in bumblebee-pollinated Helleborus foetidus. J Evol Biol 15:108–121CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Imre I, McLaughlin RL, Noakes DLG (2002) Phenotypic plasticity in brook char: changes in caudal fin induced by water flow. J Fish Biol 61:1171–1181CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Jonsson B, Jonsson N (2001) Polymorphism and speciation in Arctic char. J Fish Biol 58:605–638CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Kawata M (2002) Invasion of vacant and subsequent sympatric speciation. Proc R Soc Lond B 269:55–63CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Lewontin RC (1978) Adaptation. Sci Am 239:213–231Google Scholar
  24. Ling EN, Cotter D (2003) Statistical power in comparative aquaculture studies. Aquaculture 224:159–168CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. McLaughlin RL (2001) Behavioural diversification in brook char: adaptive responses to local conditions. J Anim Ecol 70:325–337CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Mërila J, Bjorklund M (1999) Population divergence and morphometric integration in the greenfinch (Carduelis chloris)—evolution against the trajectory of least resistance? J Evol Biol 12:103–112CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Ministère de l’agriculture, des pêcheries et de l’alimentation Québec (1990) Atelier de travail sur la génétique des salmonidés d’élevage au Québec, cahier de conférences. Gouvernement du Québec, QuébecGoogle Scholar
  28. Moran MD (2003) Arguments for rejecting the sequential Bonferroni in ecological studies. Oikos100:403–405Google Scholar
  29. Olden JD, Jackson DA, Peres-Neto PR (2002) Predictive models for fish species distributions: a note on proper validation and chance predictions. Trans Am Fish Soc 131:329–336Google Scholar
  30. Pakkasmaa S, Piironen J (2001) Water velocity shapes salmonids. Evol Ecol 14:721–730CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Peres-Neto PR (1999) How many statistical tests are too many? The problem of conducting multiple inferences revisited. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 176:303–306Google Scholar
  32. Peres-Neto PR, Jackson DA, Somers KM (2003) Giving meaningful interpretation to ordination axes: assessing loading significance in principal component analysis. Ecology 84:2347–2363Google Scholar
  33. Pigliucci M (2001) Phenotypic plasticity: beyond nature and nurture. The Johns Hopkins University Press, BaltimoreGoogle Scholar
  34. Pigliucci M, Cammell K, Schmitt J (1999) Evolution of phenotypic plasticity: a comparative approach in the phylogenetic neighbourhood of Arabidopsis thaliana. J Evol Biol 12:779–791CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Proulx R, Magnan P (2002) Physiological performance of two forms of lacustrine brook char, Salvelinus fontinalis, in the open-water habitat. Environ Biol Fish 64:127–136CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Reist JD (1986) An empirical-evaluation of coefficients used in residual and allometric adjustment of size covariation. Can J Zool 64:1363–1368Google Scholar
  37. Robinson BW, Parsons KJ (2002) Changing times, spaces, and faces: tests and implications of adaptive morphologicl plasticity in the fishes of northern postglacial lakes. Can J Fish Aquat Sci 59:1819–1833CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Schlichting, CD (1989) Phenotypic integration and environmental change. BioScience 39:460–464Google Scholar
  39. Schluter D (1996) Ecological speciation in postglacial fishes. Phylos Trans R Soc Lond B 351:807–814Google Scholar
  40. Skúlason S, Smith TB (1995) Resource polymorphism in vertebrates. Trends Environ Ecol 10:366–370CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Skúlason S, Noakes DLG, Snorrason SS (1989) Ontogeny of trophic morphology of four sympatric morphs of Arctic char Salvelinus alpinus in Thingvallavatn, Iceland. Biol J Linn Soc 38:281–301Google Scholar
  42. Stearns SC (1989) The evolutionary significance of phenotypic plasticity. BioScience 39:436–445Google Scholar
  43. Taylor EB, McPhail JD (1985) Variation in body morphology among British Columbia populations of coho salmon, Onchorhynchus kisutch. Can J Fish Aquat Sci 42:2020–2028Google Scholar
  44. Waddington CH (1953) Genetic assimilation of an acquired character. Evolution 7:118–126Google Scholar
  45. Wagner GP (1984) On the eigenvalue distribution of genetic and phenotypic dispersion matrices—evidence for a nonrandom organization of quantitative character variation. J Math Biol 21:77–95Google Scholar
  46. Waitt DE, Levin DA (1993) Phenotypic integration and plastic correlations in phlox-drummondii (polemoniaceae). Am J Bot 80:1224–1233Google Scholar
  47. Webb PW (1982) Locomotor patterns in the evolution of the actinoptherygian fishes. Am Zool 22:329–342Google Scholar
  48. Webb PW (1984) Body form, locomotion and foraging in aquatic invertebrates. Am Zool 24:107–120Google Scholar
  49. Westrich KM, Konkola NR, Matsuokab MP, Phillips RB (2002) Interspecific relationships among charrs based on phylogenetic analysis of nuclear growth hormone intron sequences. Environ Biol Fish 64:217–222CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Witte F, Barel CDN, Hoogerhoud RJC (1990) Phenotypic plasticity of anatomical structures and its ecomorphological significance. Neth J Zool 40:278–298Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Groupe de recherche sur les écosystèmes aquatiques, Départment de chimie-biologieUniversité du Québec à Trois-RivièresTrois-RivièresCanada
  2. 2.Département des Sciences BiologiquesUniversité de MontréalMontréalCanada

Personalised recommendations