Oecologia

, 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

Abstract

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.

Keywords

Charr Morphological integration Phenotypic plasticity Polymorphism Swimming ability 

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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

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