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Biomechanical assessment of adaptive radiation in threespine sticklebacks: (gasterosteus spp.) Law, Tara

Abstract

This study compares the morphological characteristics and swimming performances of a sympatric species pair of threespine stickleback in order to gain an understanding of the processes involved in their divergence. The fishes are young (13,000 years old), morphologically distinct, and inhabit different niches in the lake (Paxton Lake, Texada Island, British Columbia). Experiments were conducted to compare the steady swimming and escape fast-start performances of these fishes. I tested predictions of two hypotheses: 1) Selection has acted on the steady swimming ability of limnetics, and therefore I predicted that limnetics have greater steady swimming performance than benthics. 2) The specialization for steady swimming has compromised the fast-start performance of limnetics; consequently I predicted that benthics have greater fast-start performance than limnetics. As predicted, limnetics had greater steady swimming performance than benthics. The mean regression of the logarithm of fatigue time (F.T.) on swimming speed (U, in body lengths/second) for limnetics [Log (ET.) = 5.24 - 0.46U] was significantly higher (p

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