Fish Fry Day: Stickleback Evolution Marks Week 3 of “Fishes of Wisconsin” Challenge

Happy Fish Fry Day! This is the third week since we embarked on a crusade to share a little bit about ALL 183 species on the amazing “Fishes of Wisconsin” poster. We’ve gotten to know the suckermouth minnow a bit better, we learned how largemouth bass have been good research colleagues, and, today, we’ll get to know something cool about sticklebacks.

The three species of stickleback found in Wisconsin.

We could lead with an infographic on the far-flung home ranges of the brook stickleback (Culaea inconstans). We could tell you that, while some male fishes build nests for their mates, the male ninespine stickleback (pungitius pungitius) takes it to the next level and literally builds a tunnel of love. In fact, we were going to tell you all of this – but then we came across a fascinating video on how sticklebacks are a present-day example of evolution in action.
So, without further ado, we give you this amazing video about a the last Ice Age and the threespine stickleback’s transformation from an ocean dwelling fish, to one at home in freshwater inland lakes. UW-Madison’s own Sean Carroll takes us on the journey below. Enjoy!

(And, yes, we’re aware that we’re cheating by tackling three species at once – but were you truly hoping for three straight weeks of sticklebacks?)