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PLoS One. 2014 Nov 18;9(11):e112085. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0112085. eCollection 2014.

Adaptive radiation along a thermal gradient: preliminary results of habitat use and respiration rate divergence among whitefish morphs.

Author information

1
Kilpisjärvi Biological Station, University of Helsinki, Kilpisjärvi, Finland; Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland.
2
Department of Geological Sciences, Saskatchewan, Isotope Laboratory, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada.
3
Finnish Museum of Natural History, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland.
4
School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, Queen Mary University of London, London, United Kingdom; Instituto de Ciencias Naturales Alexander Von Humboldt, Universidad de Antofagasta, Antofagasta, Chile.
5
Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä, Finland.

Abstract

Adaptive radiation is considered an important mechanism for the development of new species, but very little is known about the role of thermal adaptation during this process. Such adaptation should be especially important in poikilothermic animals that are often subjected to pronounced seasonal temperature variation that directly affects metabolic function. We conducted a preliminary study of individual lifetime thermal habitat use and respiration rates of four whitefish (Coregonus lavaretus (L.)) morphs (two pelagic, one littoral and one profundal) using stable carbon and oxygen isotope values of otolith carbonate. These morphs, two of which utilized pelagic habitats, one littoral and one profundal recently diverged via adaptive radiation to exploit different major niches in a deep and thermally stratified subarctic lake. We found evidence that the morphs used different thermal niches. The profundal morph had the most distinct thermal niche and consistently occupied the coldest thermal habitat of the lake, whereas differences were less pronounced among the shallow water pelagic and littoral morphs. Our results indicated ontogenetic shifts in thermal niches: juveniles of all whitefish morphs inhabited warmer ambient temperatures than adults. According to sampling of the otolith nucleus, hatching temperatures were higher for benthic compared to pelagic morphs. Estimated respiration rate was the lowest for benthivorous profundal morph, contrasting with the higher values estimated for the other morphs that inhabited shallower and warmer water. These preliminary results suggest that physiological adaptation to different thermal habitats shown by the sympatric morphs may play a significant role in maintaining or strengthening niche segregation and divergence in life-history traits, potentially contributing to reproductive isolation and incipient speciation.

PMID:
25405979
PMCID:
PMC4236043
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0112085
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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