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Department of Environmental Sciences
P.O. Box 65 (Viikinkaari 1)
00014 University of Helsinki

Niemenkatu 73
15140 Lahti

Adaptive radiation of whitefish in subarctic lakes



PhD Kimmo Kahilainen

Polymorphism is typical phenomenon in many salmonid fish. Whitefish (Coregonus lavaretus (L.)) is a common polymorphic fish species in northern Fennoscandia. Origins of polymorphism can be related to phenotypic plasticity or speciation events. The origin of whitefish divergence has been connected to adaptive radiation, which is the evolution of ecological and phenotypic diversity within a rapidly multiplying lineage. Whitefish morphs in some northern Fennoscandian lakes are ecomorphologically highly divergent and radiated to all principal habitat types. >> Read more on whitefish morphs

Whitefish morphs are likely to present a case of ecological speciation. The main aims of this project are to 1) test adaptive radiation criteria in whitefish 2) reveal the main ecological mechanisms contributing to reproductive isolation between morphs and 3) the impacts of ecological speciation on ecosystem functioning.


reeska Fig. Pelagic dwelling whitefish morph:
densely rakered whitefish.
siika Fig. Shallow water benthic whitefish morph: large sparsely rakered whitefish.