The ecology of an adaptive radiation of three-spined stickleback from North Uist, Scotland
Magalhaes, Isabel S. and D’Agostino, Daniele and Hohenlohe, Paul A. and MacColl, Andrew D.C. (2016) The ecology of an adaptive radiation of three-spined stickleback from North Uist, Scotland. Molecular Ecology, 25 (17). pp. 4139-4336. ISSN 0962-1083
There has been a large focus on the genetics of traits involved in adaptation, but knowledge of the environmental variables leading to adaptive changes is surprisingly poor. Combined use of environmental data with morphological and genomic data should allow us to understand the extent to which patterns of phenotypic and genetic diversity within a species can be explained by the structure of the environment. Here we analyse the variation of populations of three-spined stickleback from 27 freshwater lakes on North Uist, Scotland, that vary greatly in their environment, to understand how environmental and genetic constraints contribute to phenotypic divergence. We collected 35 individuals per population and 30 abiotic and biotic environmental parameters to characterize variation across lakes and analyse phenotype – environment associations. Additionally we used RAD sequencing to estimate the genetic relationships among a subset of these populations. We found a large amount of phenotypic variation among populations, most prominently in armour and spine traits. Despite large variation in the abiotic environment, namely in ion composition, depth and Dissolved Organic Carbon, more phenotypic variation was explained by the biotic variables (presence of predators and density of predator and competitors), than by associated abiotic variables. Genetic structure among populations was partly geographic, with closer populations being more similar. Altogether our results suggest that differences in body shape among stickleback populations are the result of both canalized genetic and plastic responses to environmental factors, which shape fish morphology in a predictable direction regardless of their genetic starting point.
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