Arctic char (Salvelinus alpinus) is a freshwater species that lives further north than any other fish (Jonsson & Jonsson 2001; Lundrigan, Reist & Ferguson 2005). This species is polymorphic, meaning they have the ability to change their phenotype under different environmental conditions (Skúlason & Smith 1995). This polymorphism could be explained by their genetic basis, genetic constraints, phenotypic plasticity, or a combination. The genetic variability of this species could determine the response to selection and thus the degree of adaptation, which may vary with abiotic and biotic factors (Shikano et al. 2015). Arctic char shows ecological and morphological variation and life history traits (Hindar & Jonsson 1982; Johnson 1980). The aim of this study is to reveal and understand niche specialization of Arctic char morphs and to study mechanisms associated with ecological and genetic divergence. I focus on niche adaptation of four morphs of Arctic char in Lake Tinnsjøen using newly developed genetic markers. I will test evolutionary scenarios that could explain the rapid divergence of these morphs. This project will use different genetic markers, such as microsatellites, single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and mitochondrial DNA, to detect their genetic diversity and reveal population structure. The genomic analysis could potentially identify the molecular mechanisms for the adaptation of Arctic char, which would help to understand better the divergence of the morphs in different habitats. This new knowledge will contribute in understanding better the biology of this species and could be applied to other Arctic char systems or even to other arctic species. This knowledge could be useful to infer possible shifts or changes in their demography and distribution as a response to climate change.
MILUTARENA-Formidlings- og koordineringstiltak knyttet for miljø- og utviklingsforskning