Evol Ecol Res 19: 149-169 (2018)     Full PDF if your library subscribes.

Eco-evolutionary feedbacks in the functional role of a polymorphic colonizer: Arctic charr in subarctic lakes of Alaska and Iceland

Pamela J. Woods1,2,3,4, Skúli Skúlason1, Sigurður S. Snorrason2 and Thomas P. Quinn3

1Hólar University College, Sauðárkrókur, Iceland,  2University of Iceland, Reykjavík, Iceland, 3School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA and  4Marine and Freshwater Research Institute, Reykjavik, Iceland

Correspondence: P.J. Woods, Marine and Freshwater Research Institute, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland.


Background: The Arctic charr, Salvelinus alpinus, is likely to be the first fish to colonize northernmost freshwater systems. It often exhibits sympatric morphotypes.

Question: How do ecosystem characteristics and the life history of Arctic charr interact to generate food webs in subarctic lakes?

Organisms: We focus on allometric dietary patterns of Arctic charr. We compare them with selected, co-occurring fish species, including threespine stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus) among others, and both benthic and limnetic invertebrates.

Field sites: Subarctic lakes in two regions that differ greatly in colonization history (ten in Iceland and four in Alaska).

Methods: We used natural variation in the stable isotope ratios δ13C and δ15N to estimate trends in trophic position and relative use of benthic and limnetic carbon sources with body size among lakes and among species × morph × body size brackets within lakes.

Results: (1) In subarctic lakes with low levels of fish diversity, food chains lengthened via insertion of intermediate prey. (2) Ecosystem attributes, including the presence of competitors and competitor resource use, were associated with allometric shifts in Arctic charr resource use. (3) Species attributes, including the presence and nature of polymorphism exhibited by the Arctic charr, likewise shifted allometric trends in resource use. (4) Both the expression of resource polymorphism and interspecific interactions (i.e. predation, competition, or both) affected food web structure.

Keywords: Arctic charr, eco-evolutionary feedback, food web, resource polymorphism, subarctic lake.

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        © 2018 Pamela J. Woods. All EER articles are copyrighted by their authors. All authors endorse, permit and license Evolutionary Ecology Ltd. to grant its subscribing institutions/libraries the copying privileges specified below without additional consideration or payment to them or to Evolutionary Ecology, Ltd. These endorsements, in writing, are on file in the office of Evolutionary Ecology, Ltd. Consult authors for permission to use any portion of their work in derivative works, compilations or to distribute their work in any commercial manner.

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