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Biogeography of Iberian freshwater fishes revisited: the roles of historical versus contemporary constraints

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Abstract:

Abstract Aim 

The question of how much of the shared geographical distribution of biota is due to environmental vs. historical constraints remains unanswered. The aim of this paper is to disentangle the contribution of historical vs. contemporary factors to the distribution of freshwater fish species. In addition, it illustrates how quantifying the contribution of each type of factor improves the classification of biogeographical provinces. Location 

Iberian Peninsula, south-western Europe (c. 581,000 km2). Methods 

We used the most comprehensive data on native fish distributions for the Iberian Peninsula, compiled from Portuguese and Spanish sources on a 20-km grid-cell resolution. Overall, 58 species were analysed after being categorized into three groups according to their ability to disperse through saltwater: (1) species strictly intolerant of saltwater (primary species); (2) species partially tolerant of saltwater, making limited incursions into saltwaters (secondary species); and (3) saltwater-tolerant species that migrate back and forth from sea to freshwaters or have invaded freshwaters recently (peripheral species). Distance-based multivariate analyses were used to test the role of historical (basin formation) vs. contemporary environmental (climate) conditions in explaining current patterns of native fish assemblage composition. Cluster analyses were performed to explore species co-occurrence patterns and redefine biogeographical provinces based on the distributions of fishes. Results 

River basin boundaries were better at segregating species composition for all species groups than contemporary climate variables. This historical signal was especially evident for primary and secondary freshwater fishes. Eleven biogeographical provinces were delineated. Basins flowing to the Atlantic Ocean north of the Tagus Basin and those flowing to the Mediterranean Sea north of the Mijares Basin were the most dissimilar group. Primary and secondary freshwater species had higher province fidelity than peripheral species. Main conclusions 

The results support the hypothesis that historical factors exert greater constraints on native freshwater fish assemblages in the Iberian Peninsula than do current environmental factors. After examining patterns of assemblage variation across space, as evidenced by the biogeographical provinces, we discuss the likely dispersal and speciation events that underlie these patterns.

Keywords: Assemblage composition; Iberian Peninsula; basin boundaries; biogeography; climate; dispersal; environment; freshwater fish; history

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2699.2009.02154.x

Affiliations: 1: Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales, CSIC, José Gutiérrez Abascal 2, Madrid, Spain 2: US Geological Survey, Virginia Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Virginia, USA 3: Centro de Biologia Ambiental, Faculdade de Ciências, Universidade de Lisboa, Campo Grande, Lisboa, Portugal

Publication date: 2009-11-01

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