Introduced lake trout exhibit life history and morphological divergence with depth

Craig P. Stafford, Megan V. McPhee, Lisa A. Eby, Fred W. Allendorf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


We found that an introduced population of lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush) in Flathead Lake, Montana, USA, exhibited divergent life history, diet, and morphology after the invasion of Mysis diluviana. A correspondence between stable isotopes (δ13C and δ15N) in lake trout muscle and their prey suggests that individual lake trout exhibited depth preferences. Lake trout 451-600mmtotal length showed morphological distinctness between shallow (0-25 m) and deep (60-100 m) collections wherein the latter had deeper bodies and larger eyes. Furthermore, these deep lake trout fed more heavily on Mysis, grew slower, and matured at a smaller size. Lack of genetic divergence between depth groups and the rapid divergence of life histories after Mysis invasion suggest a strong role for environment in producing the observed ecotypic variation. Our research supports resource partitioning by depth and diet as a drivers of phenotypic diversity in lake trout, providing insights into the origins of morphotypes and guidance for conservation of native populations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10-20
Number of pages11
JournalCanadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2014


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