Genetic and morphological data supporting the hypothesis of adaptive radiation in the endemic fish of Lake Matano


Daniel Heath, Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research, University of Windsor, Windsor Ontario N9B 3P4, Canada.
Tel.: 519 253 3000, ext. 3762; fax: 519 971 3616;


Adaptive radiation resulting from differential selection acting on functional features is believed to be an important source of biodiversity. In this study, morphometric measures and mitochondrial DNA are used to test for adaptive radiation within four fish genera (Glossogobius, Oryzias, Dermogenys and Telmatherina) endemic to an ancient island lake (Lake Matano, Sulawesi, Indonesia), using the framework proposed by Schluter (The Ecology of Adaptive Radiation, Oxford University Press, 2000). We demonstrate common ancestry and rapid divergence in one genus (Telmatherina) based on 560 bp of 16S sequence data. We found higher levels of variation in feeding-related traits (N = 8) for Telmatherina relative to the other genera, while no differences were found for sexual display traits (N = 8) or neutral morphological traits (N = 8). Telmatherina also had the highest number of distinct colouration patterns among the four genera. These data, combined with the very low productivity of the lake, are indicative of selection driving adaptive radiation. The morphometric divergence in the Telmatherina likely results from selection acting on feeding traits in this low productivity lake, leading to trophic specialization among closely related morphotypes. These results provide indirect but compelling data supporting the adaptive radiation of Telmatherina in this system.