Characterizing phenotypic divergence using three-dimensional geometric morphometrics in four populations of threespine stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus; Pisces: Gasterosteidae) in Katmai National Park and Preserve, Alaska

A. E. Pistore, T. N. Barry, E. Bowles, R. Sharma, S. L. Vanderzwan, S. M. Rogers, Heather A. Jamniczky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Scopus citations


The threespine stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus L., 1758) is a vertebrate model for the study of the relationship between phenotype and environment in facilitating rapid evolutionary change. Using four populations from a system of lakes in Katmai National Park and Preserve, Alaska, and microcomputed tomography and three-dimensional geometric morphometrics, we test the hypothesis that stickleback populations inhabiting freshwater environments display cranial phenotypes that are intermediate between the putative ancestral form and the low-plated freshwater populations that demonstrate substantial divergence toward new phenotypic optima. We further test the hypothesis that phenotypic covariance structure is disrupted in the context of such putatively recent adaptive events. We report significant phenotypic differences among all four populations that includes a component of sexual dimorphism. Furthermore, we show evidence of disrupted phenotypic covariance structure among these populations. Taken together, these findings indicate the importance of phenotypic quantification as a key step in elucidating both the ecological processes responsible for rapid adaptive radiations and the role of developmental mechanisms in biasing evolutionary change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)463-472
Number of pages10
JournalCanadian Journal of Zoology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Apr 22 2016
Externally publishedYes



  • Alaska
  • Braincase
  • Evolution
  • Gasterosteus aculeatus
  • Geometric morphometrics
  • Microcomputed tomography
  • Phenotype
  • Skull
  • Threespine stickleback

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology

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