Implications of stunting on morphology of freshwater fishes


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The purpose of this study was to assess morphological differences between stunted and non-stunted white perch Morone americana and green sunfish Lepomis cyanellus. Few female M. americana were captured; thus, morphological differences between adult males and juveniles were assessed for M. americana. Similarly, few immature (juvenile) L. cyanellus were captured for the stunted morphotype; thus, male and female morphological differences were assessed for L. cyanellus. Features of the head tended to be relatively larger in stunted fish of both species, whereas the mid-body tended to be relatively larger in non-stunted M. americana, but not in non-stunted L. cyanellus. Adult and juvenile morphology overlapped considerably in non-stunted M. americana, but there was a clear distinction between adult and juvenile morphology of stunted M. americana. There was little sexual dimorphism in shape in stunted L. cyanellus, whereas sexual dimorphism was evident in non-stunted L. cyanellus. It appears that selective forces imposed by predation and food limitation may contribute to morphological diversification between stunted and non-stunted fishes.