IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Ecology and Adaptation of Stunted Growth in Fish


  • J. Ylikarjula
  • M. Heino
  • U. Dieckmann


Dwarf individuals are observed in many species of freshwater fish. This paper studies the potential causes of such stunted growth. We present a model which describes the effect of growth conditions on the age- and size- structure of fish populations. The model parameters are chosen to characterize a Eurasian perch population. Two possible causes of stunting are identified: resource limitation and size- or age-dependent survival probabilities. While the former mechanism often arises from intraspecific density dependence, the latter is of particular relevance in the context of interspecific interactions and fishing. After evaluating the immediate ecological consequences of these factors, we examine the potential for life-history adaptations in stunted fish populations. Interactions between the ecological and adaptive mechanisms of stunting are shown to be intricate: not only does the age at maturity of individuals affect their growth trajectories, but, in addition, alterations in growth conditions can result in different adaptively stable ages at maturity. We show that such adaptive responses can either alleviate or amplify stunting caused by ecological factors. Life-history adaptation may also lead to the persistence of stunting when ecological factors alone would allow for normal growth. an appreciation of the interplay between ecological and adaptive factors therefore is critical for understanding the causes and mechanisms of stunted growth.

Suggested Citation

  • J. Ylikarjula & M. Heino & U. Dieckmann, 1999. "Ecology and Adaptation of Stunted Growth in Fish," Working Papers ir99050, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis.
  • Handle: RePEc:wop:iasawp:ir99050

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. U. Dieckmann & M. Doebeli, 1999. "On the Origin of Species by Sympatric Speciation," Working Papers ir99013, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. repec:eee:ecomod:v:251:y:2013:i:c:p:32-43 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:wop:iasawp:ir99050. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Thomas Krichel). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.