Tag Archives: speciation

Lessons from a little fish

In northeastern Germany, about 75 km north of Berlin, a little lake sits nestled in the woods.  In the lake’s depths swims a little fish – a dwarf cisco, Coregonus fontanae.  In the fish’s name, there’s a story tucked away.

Coregonus fontanae is one of a pair of cisco species in Lake Stechlin. Around the world, ciscoes (like many other fish) have evolved pairs of ecologically distinct species sharing lakes – in this case, the shallow-water Coregonus albula and its descendent species, the deeper-water C. fontanaeC. albula is widespread across northern Europe, but C. fontanae occurs only in the 4 km2 or so of Lake Stechlin. It looks a lot like its ancestor, except for its dwarfism, and it was formally described and named only in 2003.

Michael Schulz and Jörg Freyhof, who discovered and named the new cisco species, had a choice. Continue reading