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The evolution of reproductive and genomic diversity in ray-finned fishes: insights from phylogeny and comparative analysis

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Collectively, ray-finned fishes (Actinopterygii) display far more diversity in many reproductive and genomic features than any other major vertebrate group. Recent large-scale comparative phylogenetic analyses have begun to reveal the evolutionary patterns and putative causes for much of this diversity. Several such recent studies have offered clues to how different reproductive syndromes evolved in these fishes, as well as possible physiological and genomic triggers. In many cases, repeated independent origins of complex reproductive strategies have been uncovered, probably reflecting convergent selection operating on common suites of underlying genes and hormonal controls. For example, phylogenetic analyses have uncovered multiple origins and predominant transitional pathways in the evolution of alternative male reproductive tactics, modes of parental care and mechanisms of sex determination. They have also shown that sexual selection in these fishes is repeatedly associated with particular reproductive strategies. Collectively, studies on reproductive and genomic diversity across the Actinopterygii illustrate both the strengths and the limitations of comparative phylogenetic approaches on large taxonomic scales.

Keywords: comparative method; genome evolution; mating behaviour; sexual selection; supertree; taxonomic diversification

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California, Irvine, CA 92697, U.S.A.

Publication date: July 1, 2006

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