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Biogeography of the deepwater sculpin (Myoxocephalus thompsonii), a Nearctic glacial relict

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Although the freshwater fish fauna of North America is relatively well studied, the biogeography of the deepwater sculpin (Myoxocephalus thompsonii (Girard, 1851)) remains poorly understood. Collections of the species are limited, both because of its relatively remote distribution and because its habitat at the bottom of very deep lakes presents considerable logistic challenges for sampling. To investigate the biogeography of the deepwater sculpin, we conducted a range-wide (excluding the Laurentian Great Lakes) survey for the species between May and October 2004. Deepwater sculpin were collected using a variety of sampling gears, including a trap that was specifically designed to capture the species. We hypothesized that deepwater sculpin would be found only in areas that were formerly occupied by glacial lakes or the Champlain Sea. We reconstructed the historical boundaries of these water bodies and found that nearly all lakes where deepwater sculpin were collected, including four new localities, were within those limits. Conversely, the species was not detected in sampled lakes that were beyond these boundaries. Our results clarify the distribution and biogeography of the deepwater sculpin and strengthen the view that the current distribution of the species was mediated by dispersal through glacial lakes and the Champlain Sea.

Bien que la faune des poissons d’eau douce d’Amérique du Nord soit relativement bien connue, la biogéographie du chabot de profondeur (Myoxocephalus thompsonii (Girard, 1851)) reste mal comprise. Les récoltes de cette espèce sont peu nombreuses, tant à cause de sa répartition en milieu éloigné qu’à cause de son habitat au fond des lacs très profonds, qui compliquent considérablement la logistique d’échantillonnage. Afin d’étudier la biogéographie du chabot de profondeur, nous avons procédé à un inventaire à grande échelle (en excluant les Grands Lacs laurentiens) de l’espèce de mai à octobre 2004. Nous avons récolté les chabots de profondeur à l’aide de divers engins d’inventaire, y compris un piège spécialement conçu pour leur capture. Nous avons émis l’hypothèse que le chabot de profondeur ne serait retrouvé que dans les régions couvertes antérieurement par les lacs glaciaires ou la mer de Champlain. Nous avons reconstitué les frontières historiques de ces plans d’eau et observé que presque tous les lacs dans lesquels le chabot de profondeur a été retrouvé, dont quatre nouvelles localités, se situaient dans ces limites. À l’inverse, l’espèce n’a pas été retrouvée dans les lacs échantillonnés au-delà de ces frontières. Nos résultats précisent la répartition et la biogéographie du chabot de profondeur et appuient le point de vue qui veut que la répartition actuelle de l’espèce s’explique par une dispersion à travers les lacs glaciaires et la mer de Champlain.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 2, 2008

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  • Published since 1929, this monthly journal reports on primary research contributed by respected international scientists in the broad field of zoology, including behaviour, biochemistry and physiology, developmental biology, ecology, genetics, morphology and ultrastructure, parasitology and pathology, and systematics and evolution. It also invites experts to submit review articles on topics of current interest.
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