The vast, well-oxygenated hypolimnia of Lake Baikal and the Great Lakes were both dominated by endemic planktivorous fishes. These dominants, two species of sculpins (Comephorus,Comephoridae) in Lake Baikal and six species of deepwater ciscoes (Coregonus, Salmonidae) in the Great Lakes, although distant taxonomically, have morphologies suggesting a surprising degree of functional convergence. Here it is proposed that the same two buoyancy-regulation strategies observed in Baikal sculpins also arose in the deepwater ciscoes of the Great Lakes. One strategy favors hydrostatic lift (generated by low specific gravity) and is characterized by fatter, larger-bodied fish with smaller paired fins; the second strategy favors hydrodynamic lift (generated by swimming) and is characterized by leaner, smaller-bodied fish with larger paired fins. Both types likely evolved to feed on a single species of ecologically analogous, vertically migrating macrozooplankter: Macrohectopus branickii in Lake Baikal and Mysis relicta in the Great Lakes. It is suggested that Coregonus did not diversify and proliferate in Lake Baikal as they did in the Great Lakes because by the time Coregonus colonized Lake Baikal, pelagic sculpins were already dominant.
Additional publication details
Functional convergence among pelagic sculpins of Lake Baikal and deepwater ciscoes of the Great Lakes