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Species Flock in the North American Great Lakes: Molecular Ecology of Lake Nipigon Ciscoes (Teleostei: Coregonidae: Coregonus)

Julie Turgeon, Arnaud Estoup and Louis Bernatchez
Evolution
Vol. 53, No. 6 (Dec., 1999), pp. 1857-1871
DOI: 10.2307/2640446
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2640446
Page Count: 15
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Species Flock in the North American Great Lakes: Molecular Ecology of Lake Nipigon Ciscoes (Teleostei: Coregonidae: Coregonus)
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Abstract

Studies on north temperate fish species indicate that new habitat availability following the last ice sheet retreat has promoted ecological speciation in postglacial lakes. Extensive ecophenotypic polymorphisms observed among the North American Great Lakes ciscoes suggest that this fish group has radiated through trophic adaptation and reproductive isolation. This study aims at relating the ecomorphological and genetic polymorphisms expressed by the Lake Nipigon ciscoes to evaluate the likelihood of an intralacustrine divergence driven by the exploitation of alternative resources. Morphological variation and trophic and spatial niches are characterized and contrasted among 203 individuals. Genetic variation at six microsatellite loci is also analyzed to appraise the extent of genetic differentiation among these morphotypes. Ecomorphological data confirm the existence of four distinct morphotypes displaying various levels of trophic and depth niche overlap and specialization. However, ecological and morphological variations were not coupled as expected, suggesting that trophic morphology is not always predictive of ecology. Although extensive genetic variability was observed, little genetic differentiation was found among morphotypes, with only one morph being slightly but significantly differentiated. Contrasting patterns of morphological, ecological, and genetic polymorphisms did not support the hypothesis of ecological speciation: the most ecologically different forms were morphologically most similar, while the only genetically differentiated morph was the least ecologically specialized. The low levels of genetic differentiation and the congruence between θ and φ estimates altogether suggest a recent (most likely postglacial) process of divergence and/or high gene flow among morphs A, C, and D, whereas higher φ estimates for comparison involving morph B suggest that this morph may be derived from another colonizing lineage exchanging little genes with the other morphs. Patterns of ecophenotypic and genetic diversity are also compatible with a more complex evolutionary history involving hybridization and introgression.

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