Role of epibenthic resource opportunities in the parallel evolution of lake whitefish species pairs (Coregonus sp.)

J Evol Biol. 2010 Dec;23(12):2602-13. doi: 10.1111/j.1420-9101.2010.02121.x. Epub 2010 Oct 7.


Parallel evolution of a dwarf and normal whitefish has been documented in six post-glacial lakes. Here, we relate the structure and seasonal variations of the epibenthic invertebrate communities to the extent of phenotypic differentiation in these species pairs. The highest phenotypic differentiation occurs in lakes characterized by less overlap in size distribution between limnetic and epibenthic prey which could represent enhanced ecological opportunities for trophic specialization and adaptive divergence. Differences in community assemblages and seasonal variation of biotic and abiotic conditions may also play a role. Accumulating evidence indicates that strong directional selection acting on dwarf whitefish may be more important than divergent selection acting on both sympatric forms in driving whitefish phenotypic divergence and ultimately, ecological speciation. Along with Landry et al. (2007), this study supports the general hypothesis that parallelism in divergence among sympatric dwarf and normal whitefish is associated with parallelism in limnological adaptive landscape.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Biological
  • Animals
  • Biodiversity
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Genetic Speciation
  • Phenotype
  • Population Dynamics
  • Salmonidae / anatomy & histology*
  • Salmonidae / genetics
  • Seasons
  • Selection, Genetic