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Does water depth or diet divergence predict progress towards ecological speciation in whitefish radiations?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • Travis Ingram
  • Alan G. Hudson
  • Pascal Vonlanthen
  • Ole Seehausen
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)487-502
Number of pages16
JournalEvolutionary Ecology Research
DatePublished - 2012


Question: Is the extent of genetic divergence between sympatric whitefish ecotypes – a proxy for progress towards speciation – related to the extent of ecological divergence in spawning depth or diet?

Study system: Whitefish (Coregonus spp.) that have diversified into two or more sympatric ecotypes in subalpine Swiss lakes. Sympatric ecotypes vary in the extent of reproductive isolation.

Analytical methods: We measured the degree of spawning depth differentiation based on the depth-at-capture of different ecotypes. We estimated diet differentiation between ecotypes as Mahalanobis distances from stable isotopes. We compared each of these to genetic differentiation measured from AFLP data, using modified correlation tests and phylogenetically independent contrasts to account for non-independence of comparisons in lakes with more than two ecotypes.

Results: We found that the magnitude of divergence in spawning depth was generally – albeit only marginally significantly – associated with the extent of genetic divergence between sympatric ecotypes. This effect was clearly stronger than the effect of diet divergence, which was not associated with genetic differentiation. Furthermore, there was no evidence for an interactive effect of depth and diet divergence on progress towards speciation.

    Research areas

  • AFLP, Coregonus spp., parapatric speciation, stable isotope analysis, sympatric speciation


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