Evol Ecol Res 15: 271-294 (2013)     Full PDF if your library subscribes.

On Irish stickleback: morphological diversification in a secondary contact zone

Mark Ravinet1,2, Paulo A. Prodöhl1 and Chris Harrod1,3

1School of Biological Sciences, Queen’s University Belfast, Belfast, UK,  2Ecological Genetics Laboratory, National Institute of Genetics, Mishima, Japan and  3Facultad de Recursos del Mar, Instituto de Investigaciones Oceanológicas, Universidad Antofagasta, Antofagasta, Chile

Correspondence: M. Ravinet, School of Biological Sciences, Queen’s University Belfast, Belfast BT9 7BL, UK. E-mail: mravinet01@qub.ac.uk


Question: How parallel is adaptive evolution when it occurs from different genetic backgrounds?

Background: Divergent evolutionary lineages of several post-glacial fish species including the threespine stickleback are found together in Ireland.

Goals: To investigate the morphological diversity of stickleback populations in Ireland and assess whether morphology evolved in parallel between evolutionary lineages.

Methods: We sampled stickleback from lake, river, and coastal habitats across Ireland. Microsatellite and mitochondrial DNA data revealed evolutionary history. Geometric morphometrics and linear trait measurements characterized morphology. We used a multivariate approach to quantify parallel and non-parallel divergence within and between lineages.

Results: Repeated evolution of similar morphologies in similar habitats occurred across Ireland, concordant with patterns observed elsewhere in the stickleback distribution. A strong pattern of habitat-specific morphology existed even among divergent lineages. Furthermore, a strong signal of shared morphological divergence occurred along a marine–freshwater axis. Evidently, deterministic natural selection played a more important role in driving freshwater adaptation than independent evolutionary history.

Keywords: ecomorphological divergence, non-parallelism, parallelism, secondary contact, stickleback.

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