Nebraska Cooperative Fish & Wildlife Research Unit


Date of this Version



Published in Journal of Fish Biology (2010) 76, 564–579, doi:10.1111/j.1095-8649.2009.02498.x, available online at


The purpose of this study was to assess morphological differences between stunted and non-stunted white perch Morone americana and green sunfish Lepomis cyanellus. Few female M. americana were captured; thus, morphological differences between adult males and juveniles were assessed for M. americana. Similarly, few immature (juvenile) L. cyanellus were captured for the stunted morphotype; thus, male and female morphological differences were assessed for L. cyanellus. Features of the head tended to be relatively larger in stunted fish of both species, whereas the mid-body tended to be relatively larger in non-stunted M. americana, but not in non-stunted L. cyanellus. Adult and juvenile morphology overlapped considerably in non-stunted M. americana, but there was a clear distinction between adult and juvenile morphology of stunted M. americana. There was little sexual dimorphism in shape in stunted L. cyanellus, whereas sexual dimorphism was evident in non-stunted L. cyanellus. It appears that selective forces imposed by predation and food limitation may contribute to morphological diversification between stunted and non-stunted fishes.