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A new approach to quantifying morphological variation in bluegill Lepomis macrochirus

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Bluegill Lepomis macrochirus showed intraspecific morphological and behavioural differences dependent on the environment. Pelagic L. macrochirus had more fusiform bodies, a higher pectoral fin aspect ratio, a larger spiny dorsal fin area and pectoral fins located farther from the centre of mass than littoral L. macrochirus (P < 0·05). The shape of the body and pectoral fins, in particular, were suggestive of adaptation for sustained high-speed and economical labriform swimming. Littoral L. macrochirus had a deeper and wider body, deeper caudal fins and wider mouths than pelagic L. macrochirus (P < 0·05). Additionally, the soft dorsal, pelvic, anal and caudal fins of littoral L. macrochirus were positioned farther from the centre of mass (P < 0·05). The size and placement of these fins suggested that they will be effective in creating turning moments to facilitate manoeuvring in the macrophyte-dense littoral habitat.

Keywords: ecomorph; resource polyphenism; sexual polyphenism; swimming performance

Document Type: Regular Paper


Affiliations: Department of Biological Sciences, Wellesley College, Wellesley, MA 02481, U.S.A.

Publication date: 2011-04-01

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