On Irish sticklebacks: morphological diversification in a secondary contact zone

M. Ravinet, P.A. Prodöhl, C. Harrod

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

17 Citations (Scopus)


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

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

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

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.

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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)271-294
JournalEvolutionary Ecology Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jan 2013

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