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author:("harrow, Chris")
2.  Rapid sympatric ecological differentiation of crater lake cichlid fishes within historic times 
BMC Biology  2010;8:60.
Background
After a volcano erupts, a lake may form in the cooled crater and become an isolated aquatic ecosystem. This makes fishes in crater lakes informative for understanding sympatric evolution and ecological diversification in barren environments. From a geological and limnological perspective, such research offers insight about the process of crater lake ecosystem establishment and speciation. In the present study we use genetic and coalescence approaches to infer the colonization history of Midas cichlid fishes (Amphilophus cf. citrinellus) that inhabit a very young crater lake in Nicaragua-the ca. 1800 year-old Lake Apoyeque. This lake holds two sympatric, endemic morphs of Midas cichlid: one with large, hypertrophied lips (~20% of the total population) and another with thin lips. Here we test the associated ecological, morphological and genetic diversification of these two morphs and their potential to represent incipient speciation.
Results
Gene coalescence analyses [11 microsatellite loci and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) sequences] suggest that crater lake Apoyeque was colonized in a single event from the large neighbouring great lake Managua only about 100 years ago. This founding in historic times is also reflected in the extremely low nuclear and mitochondrial genetic diversity in Apoyeque. We found that sympatric adult thin- and thick-lipped fishes occupy distinct ecological trophic niches. Diet, body shape, head width, pharyngeal jaw size and shape and stable isotope values all differ significantly between the two lip-morphs. The eco-morphological features pharyngeal jaw shape, body shape, stomach contents and stable isotopes (δ15N) all show a bimodal distribution of traits, which is compatible with the expectations of an initial stage of ecological speciation under disruptive selection. Genetic differentiation between the thin- and thick-lipped population is weak at mtDNA sequence (FST = 0.018) and absent at nuclear microsatellite loci (FST < 0.001).
Conclusions
This study provides empirical evidence of eco-morphological differentiation occurring very quickly after the colonization of a new and vacant habitat. Exceptionally low levels of neutral genetic diversity and inference from coalescence indicates that the Midas cichlid population in Apoyeque is much younger (ca. 100 years or generations old) than the crater itself (ca. 1 800 years old). This suggests either that the crater remained empty for many hundreds of years after its formation or that remnant volcanic activity prevented the establishment of a stable fish population during the early life of the crater lake. Based on our findings of eco-morphological variation in the Apoyeque Midas cichlids, and known patterns of adaptation in Midas cichlids in general, we suggest that this population may be in a very early stage of speciation (incipient species), promoted by disruptive selection and ecological diversification.
doi:10.1186/1741-7007-8-60
PMCID: PMC2880021  PMID: 20459869
3.  Habitat-specific adaptation of immune responses of stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus) lake and river ecotypes 
Freshwater populations of three-spined sticklebacks (Gasterosteus aculeatus) in northern Germany are found as distinct lake and river ecotypes. Adaptation to habitat-specific parasites might influence immune capabilities of stickleback ecotypes. Here, naive laboratory-bred sticklebacks from lake and river populations were exposed reciprocally to parasite environments in a lake and a river habitat. Sticklebacks exposed to lake conditions were infected with higher numbers of parasite species when compared with the river. River sticklebacks in the lake had higher parasite loads than lake sticklebacks in the same habitat. Respiratory burst, granulocyte counts and lymphocyte proliferation of head kidney leucocytes were increased in river sticklebacks exposed to lake when compared with river conditions. Although river sticklebacks exposed to lake conditions showed elevated activation of their immune system, parasites could not be diminished as effectively as by lake sticklebacks in their native habitat. River sticklebacks seem to have reduced their immune-competence potential due to lower parasite diversity in rivers.
doi:10.1098/rspb.2007.0210
PMCID: PMC2176159  PMID: 17426014
ecological immunology; Gasterosteus aculeatus; ecotypes; parasites; immune response; specific growth rate
4.  Tracing early stages of species differentiation: Ecological, morphological and genetic divergence of Galápagos sea lion populations 
Background
Oceans are high gene flow environments that are traditionally believed to hamper the build-up of genetic divergence. Despite this, divergence appears to occur occasionally at surprisingly small scales. The Galápagos archipelago provides an ideal opportunity to examine the evolutionary processes of local divergence in an isolated marine environment. Galápagos sea lions (Zalophus wollebaeki) are top predators in this unique setting and have an essentially unlimited dispersal capacity across the entire species range. In theory, this should oppose any genetic differentiation.
Results
We find significant ecological, morphological and genetic divergence between the western colonies and colonies from the central region of the archipelago that are exposed to different ecological conditions. Stable isotope analyses indicate that western animals use different food sources than those from the central area. This is likely due to niche partitioning with the second Galápagos eared seal species, the Galápagos fur seal (Arctocephalus galapagoensis) that exclusively dwells in the west. Stable isotope patterns correlate with significant differences in foraging-related skull morphology. Analyses of mitochondrial sequences as well as microsatellites reveal signs of initial genetic differentiation.
Conclusion
Our results suggest a key role of intra- as well as inter-specific niche segregation in the evolution of genetic structure among populations of a highly mobile species under conditions of free movement. Given the monophyletic arrival of the sea lions on the archipelago, our study challenges the view that geographical barriers are strictly needed for the build-up of genetic divergence. The study further raises the interesting prospect that in social, colonially breeding mammals additional forces, such as social structure or feeding traditions, might bear on the genetic partitioning of populations.
doi:10.1186/1471-2148-8-150
PMCID: PMC2408593  PMID: 18485220

Results 1-4 (4)