Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 74, Issue 2, pp 239–244 | Cite as

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

  • Rakel Júlía Sigursteinsdóttir
  • Bjarni K. Kristjánsson


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.


adaptations ecology morphology resource polymorphism 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Ásgeirsdóttir, E. 2002. Dreifing og Búsvædi Gjáarlontunnar (Salvelinus  alpinus) í hraunhellum vid Myvatn (Distribution of the cave arctic charr (Salvelinus  alpinus) in caves around Myvatn). B.Sc. thesis, Biology Department, University of Iceland, Reykjavik 28 pp. (in Icelandic).Google Scholar
  2. Dahl, K. 1943. Ørret og ørretvann. J.W. Cappelens forlag. Oslo. 182 pp. (in Norwegian).Google Scholar
  3. Gardarsson, A. 1979Vistfrædileg flokkun íslenskra vatna (Ecological classification of Icelandic lakes)Tyli9110 (in Icelandic)Google Scholar
  4. A. Gardarsson Á. Einarsson (eds.). 1991. Náttúra Myvatns (The nature of lake Myvatn). Hid Íslenska Náttúrufrædafélag. 372 pp (in Icelandic).Google Scholar
  5. Jonsson, B. 1976Comparison of scales and otoliths for age determination in brown trout Salmo  trutta LNor. J. Zool.24295301Google Scholar
  6. Jónsson, B., Noakes, D.L.G. 2001

    Icelandic eels

    Aida, K.Tsukamoto, K.Yamauchi, K. eds. Advances in Eel Biology, Proceedings of the International SymposiumUniversity of TokyoJapan3335
    Google Scholar
  7. Kristjánsson, B.K. 2001. Divergence of Icelandic threespine stickleback, Gasterosteus aculeatus, to two substrate types in lakes and a recently formed lagoon. M.Sc. thesis, University of Guelph, 115 pp.Google Scholar
  8. Kristjánsson, B.K., Skúlason, S., Noakes, D.L.G. 2002aMorphological segregation of Icelandic threespine stickleback (Gasterosteus  aculeatus L.)Biol. J. Linnean Soc.76247257CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Kristjánsson, B.K., Skúlason, S., Noakes, D.L.G. 2002bRapid divergence in a recently isolated population of threespine stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus L.)Evol. Ecol. Res.4114Google Scholar
  10. Malmquist, H.J., Antonsson, T., Gudbergsson, G., Skúlason, S., Snorrason, S.S. 1999Biodiversity of macroinvertebrates on rocky substrate in the surf zone of Icelandic lakesVerhandlungen der Internationale Vereinigung fur Theoretische und Angewandte Limnologie2717Google Scholar
  11. McPhail, J.D. 1994

    Speciation and the evolution of reproductive isolation in sticklebacks (Gasterosteus) of south-western British Columbia

    Bell, M.A.Foster, S.A. eds. The Evolutionary Biology of the Threespine SticklebackOxford University PressOxford399437
    Google Scholar
  12. Robinson, B.W., Wilson, D.S. 1994Character release and displacement in fishes: a neglected literatureAm. Natl144596627CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Schluter, D. 2000. The ecology of Adaptive Radiation. Oxford University Press, 288 pp.Google Scholar
  14. Skúlason, S., Antonsson, T., Gudbergsson, G., Malmquist, H.J., Snorrason, S.S. 1992Variability in Icelandic Arctic charrIcelandic Agric. Sci.6143153Google Scholar
  15. Skúlason, S., Smith, T.B. 1995Resource polymorphism in vertebratesTrends Ecol. Evol.10366370CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Smith, T.B., Skúlason, S. 1996Evolutionary significance of resource polymorphisms in fishes, amphibians and birdsAnn. Rev. Ecol. Syst.27111133CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Snorrason, S.S. & S. Skúlason. 2004. Adaptive speciation in northern freshwater fish – patterns and processes. pp. 210 – 228. In: U. Diekmann, H. Metz, M. Doebeli & D. Tautz (eds), Adaptive Speciation. Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Sturlaugsson, J., Jónsson, I.R., Stefánsson, S.E., Gudjónsson, S. 1998Dvergbleikja á mótum ferskvatns og sjávar (Small benthic charr where freshwater and sea meet)Náttúrufrædingurinn67189199 (in Icelandic)Google Scholar
  19. Sæmundsson, K. 1992The geology of the Tingvallavatn areaOikos644068Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rakel Júlía Sigursteinsdóttir
    • 1
  • Bjarni K. Kristjánsson
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Aquaculture and Fish BiologyHólar University CollegeSaudárkrókurIceland

Personalised recommendations