Evolution of gigantism in nine-spined sticklebacks

G. Herczeg, Abigél Gonda, Juha Merilä

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

64 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The relaxation of predation and interspecific competition are hypothesized to allow evolution toward "optimal" body size in island environments, resulting in the gigantism of small organisms. We tested this hypothesis by studying a small teleost (nine-spined stickleback, Pungitius pungitius) from four marine and five lake (diverse fish community) and nine pond (impoverished fish community) populations. In line with theory, pond fish tended to be larger than their marine or lake conspecifics, sometimes reaching giant sizes. In two geographically independent cases when predatory fish had been introduced into ponds, fish were smaller than those in nearby ponds lacking predators. Pond fish were also smaller when found in sympatry with three-spined stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus) than those in ponds lacking competitors. Size-at-age analyses demonstrated that larger size in ponds was achieved by both increased growth rates and extended longevity of pond fish. Results from a common garden experiment indicate that the growth differences had a genetic basis: pond fish developed two to three times higher body mass than marine fish during 36 weeks of growth under similar conditions. Hence, reduced risk of predation and interspecific competition appear to be chief forces driving insular body size evolution toward gigantism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3190-3200
Number of pages11
JournalEvolution
Volume63
Issue number12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2009

Fingerprint

Gigantism
Smegmamorpha
fish ponds
Gasterosteidae
Fishes
pond
fish
interspecific competition
body size
Pungitius pungitius
predation
lakes
Body Size
Lakes
Gasterosteus aculeatus
sympatry
marine fish
gardens
Growth
Sympatry

Keywords

  • Body size
  • Competition
  • Island rule
  • Natural selection
  • Predation
  • Pungitius

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Genetics

Cite this

Evolution of gigantism in nine-spined sticklebacks. / Herczeg, G.; Gonda, Abigél; Merilä, Juha.

In: Evolution, Vol. 63, No. 12, 12.2009, p. 3190-3200.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Herczeg, G. ; Gonda, Abigél ; Merilä, Juha. / Evolution of gigantism in nine-spined sticklebacks. In: Evolution. 2009 ; Vol. 63, No. 12. pp. 3190-3200.
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