Heritability of morphology in brook trout with variable life histories

PLoS One. 2010 Sep 23;5(9):e12950. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0012950.


Distinct morphological variation is often associated with variation in life histories within and among populations of both plants and animals. In this study, we examined the heritability of morphology in three hatchery strains of brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis), which were historically or are currently used for stocking and supplementation of both migratory and resident ecotypes in the upper Great Lakes region. In a common garden experiment, significant variation in body morphology was observed within and across populations sampled at three time periods. The most notable differences among strains were differences in dorso-ventral body depth and the shape of the caudal peduncle, with some differences in the anterior-posterior placement of the dorsal and ventral fins. Variation with and among 70 half-sib families indicates that heritabilities of morphology and body size were significant at most developmental time points both within and across strains. Heritabilities for morphological characters within strains ranged from 0 to 0.95 across time points. Significant within-strain heritabilities for length ranged from 0 to 0.93 across time points and for weight ranged from 0 to 0.88. Significant additive genetic variation exists within and across hatchery brook trout strains for morphology and size, indicating that these traits are capable of responding to natural or artificial selection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Size*
  • Quantitative Trait, Heritable*
  • Trout / anatomy & histology*
  • Trout / classification
  • Trout / genetics
  • Trout / growth & development