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Behavioural and morphological differences between feral and domesticated strains of common carp Cyprinus carpio

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Morphological and behavioural traits of a feral strain of the common carp Cyprinus carpio from Lake Biwa in Japan were compared with those of two domesticated strains reared in Japan (one commercial strain and one ornamental koi). To compare genetically inherited traits, all fish were reared from eggs under similar environmental conditions. Using these fish, the following five traits were compared among the three strains: body shape, consumption rate of two types of free-swimming shrimp, medaka Oryzias latipes and bottom-dwelling chironomid larvae prey items, preference for a bottom habitat, feeding skills in detecting prey and escape response to predator attack. The feral strain of fish had more streamlined bodies, higher consumption rates for free-swimming prey, a greater preference for a bottom habitat, possessed greater skill in detecting prey and were more cautious of predator attacks, compared with the fish of the two domesticated strains. These characteristics shown by the feral fish are probably adaptive to the natural environment. A genetic analysis based on five nuclear single nucleotide polymorphism markers, however, suggested that the feral strain was relatively recently derived from domesticated stocks. Considering this, the present results appear to indicate the possibility that domesticated C. carpio could re-adapt to the wild environment during a short evolutionary period, although further research using more feral strains is required.
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Keywords: artificial selection; domestication; genetic markers; invasion; morphometrics

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: 1: Ocean Research Institute, The University of Tokyo, 1-15-1 Minamidai, Nakano-ku, Tokyo 164-8639, Japan 2: Department of Ecosystem Studies, Graduate School of Agricultural and Life Sciences, The University of Tokyo, 1-1-1 Yayoi, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-8657, Japan

Publication date: 2009-10-01

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