Journal of Ichthyology

, Volume 46, Issue 6, pp 418–435 | Cite as

Graylings of Baikal Lake basin (Thymallus, Thymallidae): Diversity of forms and their taxonomic status

  • I. B. Knizhin
  • S. J. Weiss
  • S. Sušnik


The morphological characters, molecular-genetic features, and patterns of the dorsal fin in different subspecies and forms of Arctic grayling Thymallus arcticus populating Lake Baikal and its tributaries, Irkutsk Reservoir, and Lake Khubsugul have been studied. Three groups are discernable. The first includes the white and black Baikal graylings T. a. baicalensis, as well as the western Siberian T. a. arcticus; the second group is represented by the Kosogol grayling T. a. nigrescens, and the third is composed of T. arcticus ssp. from the Yakchii lakes (the Verkhnyaya Angara basin) with a phenotype close to graylings populating the upper reaches of the Lena River. All of them are distinguished by some morphological characters, elements of the dorsal fin pattern, and by body coloration. The populations of black Baikal graylings are genetically uniform, and their distinctions from white Baikal graylings are insignificant, which agrees with the absence of a considerable divergence of these forms by a complex of meristic characters. It is assumed that in the black and white Baikal graylings the exchange by genetic information has either ceased quite recently, or persists, although, insignificantly. Some genetic remoteness of the west Siberian grayling from Irkutsk Reservoir and Nizhnyaya Tunguska, closely related to the Baikal grayling, is recorded. The formation of the Khubsugul subspecies is possibly a result of the contact of grayling populations during the rearrangements of the river system in the last glaciation period in the upper reaches of Yenisei and Selenga in Mongolia. The habitation in the Baikal system of the Upper Lena graylings indicates a connection between the Lena and Baikal basins in the past. The results of a multivariate analysis of meristic characters and the sequences of mitochondrial DNA confirm the conclusion made by Svetovidov (1931, 1936), concerning the absence of grounds to assign a species status to the Baikal forms.


Taxonomic Status Body Coloration Pyloric Caecum Meristic Character Baikal Basin 
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Copyright information

© Pleiades Publishing, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • I. B. Knizhin
    • 1
  • S. J. Weiss
    • 2
  • S. Sušnik
    • 2
  1. 1.Irkutsk State UniversityIrkutskRussia
  2. 2.Institute of Zoology, Karl-Franzens University GrazAustria UniversityGrazAustria

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