Biology of the Three-Spined Stickleback: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Biology of the Three-Spined Stickleback

1st Edition

Edited by Sara Ostlund-Nilsson, Ian Mayer, Felicity Anne Huntingford

CRC Press

408 pages | 51 B/W Illus.

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Hardback: 9780849332197
pub: 2006-12-15
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Highlighting the growing importance of the sticklebacks as a model species in emerging fields such as molecular genetics, genomics, and environmental toxicology, Biology of the Three-Spined Stickleback examines data from researchers who use studies of the stickleback to address a wide range of biological issues. This state-of-the-art volume is the first comprehensive review of the biological research on this important fish in more than a decade.

The book presents current knowledge on the geographic and genetic variation of the ubiquitous three-spined stickleback and explores the possibility of any subdivision within currently recognized stickleback species. It provides a summary of important new molecular tools available, and how these tools can be used to study the genetic architecture and molecular basis of evolutionary change in different stickleback populations around the world. The book also lays out their physiology, historical factors, geographic distribution, and describes the features of their biology that seem to promote rapid speciation. It covers reproductive behavior in chronological order, and the mechanisms and selection pressures behind the activities that sticklebacks perform during the different phases of the breeding season.

Full of cutting-edge data, the book discusses the umwelt of the three-spine stickleback, with particular reference to how that world interacts with and shapes intraspecific communication during the breeding season. It covers developments in stickleback reproductive physiology from 1991 onward and summarizes studies performed — mainly within the fields of behavioral ecology and physiology — on some of the less-studied stickleback species. The book touches on the biology, in particular the behavioral ecology, of the 15-spined stickleback. Emphasizing the importance of the sticklebacks to a variety of disciplines, this book presents information that is both extensive and authoritative.


“… introduce(s) 11 contributed chapters that examine the dramatic structural and behavioral differences in naturally isolated stickleback populations in light of the latest genetic mapping studies. …”

— In Book News Inc., June 2007

"Biology of the Three-Spined Stickleback includes a good selection of important topics and some well-conceived and well-written reviews."

– Michael A. Bell, Ecology & Evolution, Stony Brook University, in The Quarterly Review of Biology, June 2008, Vol. 83, No. 2

Table of Contents

Phylogeny, Systematics, and Taxonomy of Sticklebacks, M.Y. Mattern

General Introduction

Spinachia Cuvier 1817

Apeltes DeKay 1842

Culaea Whitley 1950

Pungitius Coste 1848

Gasterosteus Linnaeus 1758

Family-Level Relationships

General Conclusions


Appendix: Synonymy

The Molecular Genetics of Evolutionary Change in Sticklebacks, D.M. Kingsley and C.L. Peichel

Introduction: The Growth of Genomic Resources for Three-Spined Sticklebacks

Developing a Toolkit for Molecular Analysis

Applications to Specific Traits


Concluding Remarks



Speciation in Sticklebacks, J.W. Boughman


Setting the Stage

The Basis of Reproductive Isolation

Mechanisms of Speciation: Natural Selection and Reproductive Isolation

The Genetics of Parallel Evolution and Speciation

Persistence and Conservation of Species



Antipredator Defences in Sticklebacks: Trade-Offs, Risk Sensitivity, and Behavioural Syndromes, F. Huntingford and S. Coyle

Predators of Sticklebacks

Antipredator Adaptations in Sticklebacks

Effects of Local Predation Regimes

Costs, Benefits, and Trade-Offs

Individual Variability in Risk Taking




Reproductive Behaviour in the Three-Spined Stickleback, S. Östlund-Nilsson



Nest Building

Paternal Care

Courtship and Mate Choice


The Umwelt of the Three-Spined Stickleback, D.A. McLennan




What Sensory Systems are Left to Study?

Umwelt and Us


Reproductive Physiology of Sticklebacks, B. Borg


Spermatogenesis and Spermatozoa

Gonadal Hormones

Secondary Sexual Characters

Brain–Pituitary–Gonadal Axis

Control of the Seasonal Reproductive Cycle


Hormonal Control of Reproductive Behaviour in the Stickleback, I. Mayer and M. Páll


Reproductive Behaviour in the Stickleback

Gonadal Steroids and Reproductive Behaviour

Androgen–Behaviour Relationships over the Nesting Cycle

Cost–Benefit Trade-Offs Associated with High Androgen Levels

Prolactin and Behaviour

Other Factors

Behaviour and Other Stickleback Species

Endocrine Disruption of Reproductive Behaviour



Host–Parasite Interactions of the Three-Spined Stickleback, I. Barber


Patterns of Infection in Three-Spined Sticklebacks

Avoiding Infections: Behavioural and Immunological Resistance to Parasites

Morphological and Physiological Effects of Infection

Behavioural Effects of Infections

Fitness Consequences of Infections in Natural Populations


The Use of the Stickleback as a Sentinel and Model Species in Ecotoxicology, I. Katsiadaki


The Ideal Model and Sentinel Species?

Environmental Sentinel

Endocrine Disruption in the Environment




The Biology of Other Sticklebacks, S. Östlund-Nilsson and I. Mayer


The 15-Spined Stickleback, Spinachia spinachia

The Black-Spotted Stickleback, Gasterosteus wheatlandi

The Nine-Spined Stickleback, Pungitius pungitius

The Brook Stickleback, Culaea inconstans

The Four-Spined Stickleback, Apeltes quadracus

Evolution of Sticklebacks: Further Evidence of a Marine Ancestor



About the Authors/Editor

Ostlund-Nilsson\, Sara; Mayer\, Ian; Huntingford\, Felicity Anne

About the Series

CRC Marine Biology Series

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
NATURE / Animals / General
SCIENCE / Life Sciences / Evolution
SCIENCE / Life Sciences / Biology / Marine Biology
SCIENCE / Life Sciences / General