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Trophic polymorphism, habitat and diet segregation in Percichthys trucha (Pisces: Percichthyidae) in the Andes
- Ruzzante, Daniel E., Walde, Sandra J., Cussac, Victor E., Macchi, Patricio J., Alonso, Marcelo F.
- Biological journal of the Linnean Society 1998 v.65 no.2 pp. 191-214
- Percichthys trucha, adaptive radiation, diet, fish, habitat preferences, habitats, invertebrates, lakes, larvae, littoral zone, morphs, natural selection, phenotypic correlation, Andes region, South America
- Divergent natural selection affecting specific trait combinations that lead to greater efficiency in resource exploitation is believed to be a major mechanism leading to trophic polymorphism and adaptive radiation. We present evidence of trophic polymorphism involving two benthic morphs within Percichthys trucha, a fish endemic to temperate South America. In a series of lakes located in the southern Andes, we found two morphs of P. trucha that could be distinguished on the basis of gill raker length and five other morphological measures, most of which are likely associated with the use of food resources. The differences were consistent across all lakes examined, and were correlated with habitat use and diet. Individuals with longer gill rakers were more abundant in the littoral zone (littoral morph) while the short gill-raker morph was more abundant at 10 m depth and deeper (deep benthic morph). Both morphs fed primarily on benthic invertebrates, but the littoral morph fed more on larval Anisoptera than did the deep benthic morph. Phenotypic correlations among traits were high for the littoral morph, but low and non-significant for the deep-benthic morph. We suggest that gill raker length may influence the relative efficiency of suction feeding for the two morphs. This is the first evidence of trophic polymorphism in fishes from temperate South America.