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Morphological variation among populations of Hemigrammus coeruleus (Characiformes: Characidae) in a Negro River tributary, Brazilian Amazon


We explored patterns of phenotypic variation in Hemigrammus coeruleus from the Unini River basin, a blackwater river in the Brazilian Amazon. Geometric morphometrics was used to evaluate variation in body shape among populations from four tributaries (UN2-UN5). We found no evidence for sexual dimorphism in body size and shape. However, morphological differences among populations were detected as the analyses recovered significant groups corresponding to each sub-basin, with some overlap among them. The populations from UN2, UN3 and UN5 had more elongate bodies than fish from UN4. The most morphologically divergent population belonged to UN4, the tributary with the most divergent environmental conditions and the only one with seasonally-muddy waters. The morphological variation found among these populations is likely due to phenotypic plasticity or local adaptation, arising as a product of divergent ecological selection pressures among sub-basins. This work constitutes one of the first to employ a population-level geometric morphometric approach to assess phenotypic variation in Amazonian fishes. This method was able to distinguish subtle differences in body morphology, and its use with additional species can bring novel perspectives on the evaluation of general patterns of phenotypic differentiation in the Amazon.

Geometric morphometrics; Morphology; Ornamental fish; Phenotypic plasticity; Populations

Sociedade Brasileira de Ictiologia Neotropical Ichthyology, Núcleo de Pesquisas em Limnologia, Ictiologia e Aquicultura, Universidade Estadual de Maringá., Av. Colombo, 5790, 87020-900, Phone number: +55 44-3011-4632 - Maringá - PR - Brazil