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Keywords:

  • Morphotype;
  • intrapopulation variation;
  • rearing study;
  • Salvelinus alpinus;
  • Salmonidae

Arctic charr, Salvelinus alpinus (L.), commonly exhibits two coexisting morphotypes, dwarf and normal charr, which are characterized by differences in adult body size and colouration. We tested whether or not the morphotypic differences were genetically determined in rearing experiments with offspring of the two morphs and of their crosses. The experiments suggest that this ecological polymorphism in Arctic charr is largely environmentally determined. When reared under similar conditions, offspring of each of the two morphs differed little in size at the same age, and they had the same early developmental rate and maturation pattern. Moreover, the presence of parr marks along the flanks of the fish, one characteristic of dwarf charr, depended on body size and not on parental morph. Genetic differences between the morphs were suggested for growth rate during the second year of life, and for jaw morphology. Comparisons between charr life histories in captivity and in the wild suggest that ecological polymorphism in Arctic charr is chiefly a result of variation in growth conditions between different habitats.