Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 83, Issue 1, pp 45–55 | Cite as

Seasonal and ontogenetic variations in resource use by two sympatric Arctic charr morphs

  • Per-Arne Amundsen
  • Rune Knudsen
  • Anders Klemetsen


The study compares the resource utilization of two sympatric Arctic charr morphs over an annual period in a subarctic lake. The two morphs are reproductively isolated in time and place of spawning, and are referred to as the littoral and profundal morphs (L-morph and P-morph) according to their spawning habitats. Fish were sampled monthly (ice-free season) or bimonthly (winter) using gillnets in the main lake habitats. The spatial range of the P-morph was restricted to the profundal zone throughout the whole annual period. The L-morph in contrast utilized all main habitats, exhibiting distinct seasonal and ontogenetic variations in habitat distribution. In the spring, the whole L-morph population was located along the bottom profile of the lake, in profundal and littoral habitats. During summer and autumn, habitat segregation occurred between different life-stages, juveniles mainly utilizing the profundal, pre-adults the pelagic and adult fishes the littoral zone. During winter the whole population was assembled in the littoral habitat. The L-morph also had large seasonal and ontogenetic variations in their feeding ecology, with littoral zoobenthos, zooplankton and surface insects being important prey. The P-morph had a narrower diet niche mainly consisting of chironomid larvae and other profundal zoobenthos. Hence, the two Arctic charr morphs exhibited a consistent resource differentiation during all annual seasons and throughout their life cycles, except for a dietary overlap between P-morph and juvenile L-morph charr in the profundal during summer. The findings are discussed in relation to resource polymorphism and incipient speciation.


Polymorphism Salvelinus alpinus Habitat utilization Diet Feeding 



Many people have contributed to this study, but we especially like to thank Laina Dalsbø, Jan Evjen and Bjørn Hermansen for their skilful assistance in the field and laboratory work.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Per-Arne Amundsen
    • 1
  • Rune Knudsen
    • 1
  • Anders Klemetsen
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Aquatic BioSciences, Norwegian College of Fishery ScienceUniversity of TromsøTromsøNorway

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