Evolutionary Ecology

, Volume 27, Issue 6, pp 1175–1187 | Cite as

Recent parallel divergence in body shape and diet source of alewife life history forms

  • Andrew W. Jones
  • Eric P. Palkovacs
  • David M. Post
Original Paper


Recent work suggests that juvenile alewives (Alosa pseudoharengus) share similar phenotypes among independently derived landlocked (freshwater resident) populations. Based on this observation, it is possible that the alewife life history forms represent a case of parallel adaptive divergence. To further evaluate this hypothesis, we describe patterns of body shape divergence between anadromous and landlocked alewife life history forms using geometric morphometrics. Our results suggest that body shape differs significantly between juveniles of the alewife forms: anadromous fish were more robust, with larger heads and deeper caudal peduncles, while landlocked fish from three independently isolated populations were more fusiform with thinner caudal peduncles and smaller heads. These differences matched population level dietary patterns, which suggest that anadromous fish consumed more littoral resources than landlocked fish. Finding consistent differences across populations of the same form supports the notion that landlocked alewives have diverged from their anadromous ancestors in a parallel manner, in response to pressures associated with being isolated in freshwater lakes. Comparing alewife phenotypes to expectations from the literature suggests that neither migration distance of the population, nor the relative availability of habitats in each lake, are likely drivers of the pattern we report. Instead, the pattern is consistent with the hypothesis that divergence between alewife forms results from the distinct effects of each form on its zooplankton prey.


Adaptive divergence Body shape Geometric morphometrics Alosa pseudoharengus Diet Stable isotopes Eco-evolutionary dynamics 



We thank R. Beinart, J. Brodersen, T. Hanley, J. Howeth, M. Sorenson, J. Vellota, M. Walsh, J. Weis, and D. West for their assistance in the field and lab, and G. Olack and D. Collosi for their assistance with stable isotope analysis. Comments by anonymous reviewers, T. Hanley and M. Walsh helped significantly improve this manuscript. This research was supported by NSF DEB No. 0717265 to D. M. Post, and an NSF GRF to A. W. Jones.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrew W. Jones
    • 1
  • Eric P. Palkovacs
    • 2
  • David M. Post
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Ecology and Evolutionary BiologyYale UniversityNew HavenUSA
  2. 2.Department of Ecology and Evolutionary BiologyUniversity of California-Santa CruzSanta CruzUSA

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