Colonization, population expansion, and lineage turnover: phylogeography of Mesoamerican characiform fish

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Abstract:

We present a phylogeographical analysis of four genera of Mesoamerican primary freshwater fish (Brycon, Bryconamericus, Eretmobrycon, and Cyphocharax). Three hundred and thirty-nine individuals were genotyped into one of 31 operational taxonomic units (OTUs) based on the nucleotide sequence of their mitochondrial ATPase 6 & 8 genes (842–839 bp). Contrary to inference based on the species-level taxonomy of these genera, molecular data identified only a single case of sympatry between closely related OTUs, despite extensive parapatry. Polytomies dominate the mtDNA-based phylogenies and demonstrate multiple, noncontemporaneous waves of rapid expansion across Mesoamerica from South American sources. Analyses based on genetic distances observed among congeneric species of Mesoamerican primary freshwater fishes in comparison to divergence between transisthmian marine fishes permit the strong inference that the Pliocene rise of the Panama land bridge provided the first opportunity for the colonization of Mesoamerica by Characiform fishes. We develop a priority-effect model, based on the assumption that genetically closely related OTUs share similar ecological niches, to reconcile the general lack of contemporary sympatry between closely related OTUs with the substantial historical connectivity among Mesoamerican drainages demonstrated by the rapid expansion of Brycon, Bryconamericus, and Cyphocharax. Finally, in most cases, we infer that the westerly limits of freshwater fish distributions in Mesoamerica are more consistent with being defined by ecological factors rather than by dispersal limitation. © 2006 The Linnean Society of London, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2006, 88, 235–255.
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