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Marine dispersal as a pre‐requisite for Gondwanan vicariance among elements of the galaxiid fish fauna

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Aim  The aim of this study was to determine the contributions of Gondwanan vicariance and marine dispersal to the contemporary distribution of galaxiid fishes. This group has been central in arguments concerning the roles of dispersal and vicariance in the Southern Hemisphere, as some taxa have marine life history stages through which transoceanic dispersal may have been facilitated, yet other galaxiids are entirely restricted to freshwaters.

Location  Southern Hemisphere land masses of Gondwanan derivation.

Methods  Biogeographic hypotheses of Gondwanan vicariance and marine dispersal were tested using four lines of evidence: (1) concordance of species–area phylogenetic relationships, (2) molecular estimates of lineage divergence times with a priori expectations based on plate tectonics, (3) reconstructions of ancestral dispersal capabilities, and (4) reconstructions of distribution inheritance scenarios (using the dispersal–extinction–cladogenesis model to infer historical ranges and dispersal and extinction events).

Results  Phylogenetic relationships were reconstructed from 4531 mitochondrial and nuclear nucleotide characters, and 181 morphological characters, across 53 of the 56 presently recognized species. Phylogenetic relationships were generally well resolved and supported among galaxiids using the combined dataset, and conflicting relationships between molecular and morphological datasets typically received low topological support from either or both datasets. Transoceanic disjunctions were exhibited at 16 nodes, but only three pre‐dated relevant continental fragmentation events; furthermore, ancestral distribution inheritance scenarios for two of these nodes reflected cladogenesis within, rather than between, Gondwanan land masses, and ancestral marine dispersal capability could not be rejected for all three. Instead, the four lines of evidence surveyed suggest that Gondwanan vicariance occurred twice, but in both instances was preceded by marine dispersal between land masses, and in at least one instance was initiated by the cessation of marine dispersal subsequent to continental fragmentation.

Main conclusions  Gondwanan vicariance appears to have been preceded by marine dispersal in the few instances where it may explain contemporary galaxiid distribution, such that these biogeographic mechanisms may sometimes have a synergistic relationship.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: School of Zoology, University of Tasmania, Private Bag 5, Hobart, Tas. 7001, Australia 2: National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, PO Box 8602, Christchurch, New Zealand 3: Department of Geology, University of Otago, PO Box 54 Dunedin, New Zealand 4: Department of Biological Sciences and Laboratory for Vertebrate Palaeontology, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB T6G 2E9, Canada 5: Department of Zoology, University of Otago, PO Box 54, Dunedin, New Zealand

Publication date: 2012-02-01

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