Evol Ecol Res 15: 793-808 (2013)     Full PDF if your library subscribes.

Population- and sex-specific divergence in growth patterns between two ninespine stickleback (Pungitius pungitius L) populations

Nurul Izza Ab Ghani1, Anna Kuparinen2, Tuomas Leinonen1 and Juha Merilä1

1Ecological Genetics Research Unit, Department of Biosciences, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland and  2Fisheries and Environmental Management Group, Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland

Correspondence: J. Merilä, Ecological Genetics Research Unit, Department of Biosciences, PO Box 65, University of Helsinki, FI-00014 Helsinki, Finland.
e-mail: juha.merila@helsinki.fi


Background: Growth rate is an important life-history trait that often shows sex- and population-specific differentiation in many organisms. Yet the relative contributions of additive genetic, non-additive genetic, environmental, and maternal effects underlying these differences remain largely unknown, especially in wild animal populations.

Goal: To determine the relative contributions of additive genetic, non-additive genetic, and environmental effects underlying population differences in growth rate between two stickleback populations differing markedly in their body size.

Organism: Ninespine stickleback (Pungitius pungitius).

Methods: We crossed two phenotypically and genetically distinct populations to produce ‘pure’ marine (Hel-Hel; small sized), ‘pure’ pond (Pyö-Pyö; large sized), and ‘hybrid’ (Hel-Pyö and Pyö-Hel) offspring. We reared them in standardized common garden settings until maturation.

Results: Analyses of Von Bertalanffy growth curve parameters revealed that sexes and cross-types differed in their intrinsic growth rates (k) and asymptotic sizes (L). In general, males and marine fish (Hel-Hel) had higher k and smaller L than females and fish from the pond (Pyö-Pyö). Fish from ‘hybrid’ crosses exhibited k and L intermediate to the ‘pure’ crosses, but were more similar in both respects to the pure marine than to the pure pond fish. Thus population differentiation in k and L has a genetic basis, but additive genetic effects do not explain all the observed differences. k and L were negatively correlated within three cross-types (both ‘hybrids’ and Pyö-Pyö): low intrinsic growth rates were associated with increased asymptotic size. k and L were not correlated within the Hel-Hel cross: high intrinsic growth rate was not directly associated with reduced asymptotic size. Neither k nor L predicted the age at maturation in Hel-Hel fish, and only poorly so in Pyö-Pyö fish.

Conclusion: We discovered genetically based population differentiation in key growth-related life-history traits, but little or no evidence for a role of intrinsic growth rate or asymptotic size in determining the timing of maturation in ninespine stickleback.

Keywords: asymptotic length, common garden, growth rate, maturation, Pungitius pungitius, von Bertalanffy.

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