Ecological opportunity shapes a large Arctic charr species radiation

Dönz, Carmela J.; Krähenbühl, Andrin K.; Walker, Jonas; Seehausen, Ole; Brodersen, Jakob (2019). Ecological opportunity shapes a large Arctic charr species radiation. Proceedings of the Royal Society. Series B - biological sciences, 286(1913), p. 20191992. Royal Society of London 10.1098/rspb.2019.1992

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Ecological opportunity is considered a crucial factor for adaptive radiation. Here, we combine genetic, morphological and ecological data to assess species and ecomorphological diversity of Artic charr in six lakes of a catchment in southernmost Greenland, where only charr and stickleback occur. Because the diversity of habitats and resources increases with lake size, we predict a positive association between lake size and the extent of ecomorphological diversity. The largest lake of the catchment harbours the largest Arctic charr assemblage known today. It consists of six genetically differentiated species belonging to five ecomorphs (anadromous, littoral benthic, profundal dwarf, planktivorous, piscivorous), of which the latter comprises two ecomorphologically extremely similar species. Lakes of intermediate size contain two ecomorphologically and genetically distinct species. Small lakes harbour one genetically homogeneous, yet sometimes ecomorphologically variable population. Supporting our prediction, lake size is positively correlated with the extent of ecomorphological specialization towards profundal, pelagic and piscivorous lifestyle. Furthermore, assemblagewide morphospace increases sharply when more than one genetic cluster is present. Our data suggest that ecological opportunity and speciation jointly determine phenotypic expansion in this charr radiation.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Ecology and Evolution (IEE)
08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Ecology and Evolution (IEE) > Aquatic Ecology

UniBE Contributor:

Dönz, Carmela Jeanne; Seehausen, Ole and Brodersen, Jakob


500 Science > 570 Life sciences; biology




Royal Society of London




Marcel Häsler

Date Deposited:

31 Oct 2019 10:53

Last Modified:

03 Nov 2019 02:41

Publisher DOI:





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