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J Evol Biol. 2011 Aug;24(8):1640-52. doi: 10.1111/j.1420-9101.2011.02301.x. Epub 2011 May 23.

Phenotypic plasticity, heterochrony and ontogenetic repatterning during juvenile development of divergent Arctic charr (Salvelinus alpinus).

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Department of Integrative Biology, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON, Canada.


Phenotypic plasticity is a developmental process that plays a role as a source of variation for evolution. Models of adaptive divergence make the prediction that increasing ecological specialization should be associated with lower levels of plasticity. We tested for differences in the magnitude, rate and trajectory of morphological plasticity in two lake populations of Arctic charr (Salvelinus alpinus) that exhibited variation in the degree of resource polymorphism. We reared offspring on diet treatments that mimicked benthic and pelagic prey. Offspring from the more divergent population had lower levels of morphological plasticity. Allometry influenced the rate of shape change over ontogeny, with differences in rate among ecomorphs being minimal when allometric variation was removed. However, plasticity in the spatial trajectory of development was extensive across ecomorphs, both with and without the inclusion of allometric variation, suggesting that different aspects of shape development can evolve independently.

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