Variation in egg size and offspring phenotype among and within seven Arctic charr morphs

Samantha V. Beck*, Katja Räsänen, Bjarni K. Kristjánsson, Skúli Skúlason, Zophonías O. Jónsson, Markos Tsinganis, Camille A. Leblanc

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Maternal effects have the potential to alter early developmental processes of offspring and contribute to adaptive diversification. Egg size is a major contributor to offspring phenotype, which can influence developmental trajectories and potential resource use. However, to what extent intraspecific variation in egg size facilitates evolution of resource polymorphism is poorly understood. We studied multiple resource morphs of Icelandic Arctic charr, ranging from an anadromous morph—with a phenotype similar to the proposed ancestral phenotype—to sympatric morphs that vary in their degree of phenotypic divergence from the ancestral anadromous morph. We characterized variation in egg size and tested whether egg size influenced offspring phenotype at early life stages (i.e., timing of- and size at- hatching and first feeding [FF]). We predicted that egg size would differ among morphs and be less variable as morphs diverge away from the ancestral anadromous phenotype. We also predicted that egg size would correlate with offspring size and developmental timing. We found morphs had different egg size, developmental timing, and size at hatching and FF. Egg size increased as phenotypic proximity to the ancestral anadromous phenotype decreased, with larger eggs generally giving rise to larger offspring, especially at FF, but egg size had no effect on developmental rate. The interaction between egg size and the environment may have a profound impact on offspring fitness, where the resulting differences in early life-history traits may act to initiate and/or maintain resource morphs diversification.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere9427
Pages (from-to)e9427
JournalEcology and Evolution
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Anett Reilent for her help in the rearing of offspring and aging of females. This research was funded by the Icelandic Research Fund (grant numbers 141360 and 173814‐051).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors. Ecology and Evolution published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Other keywords

  • developmental plasticity
  • diversification
  • egg size
  • freshwater
  • maternal effects
  • resource polymorphism


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