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Open Access Darwin's fishes: phylogeography of Galápagos Islands reef fishes

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Working in the Galápagos Islands and surrounding areas, we examined the relationship between population structure, a precursor to allopatric speciation, in species of reef fishes that exhibit different life history traits and three types of distributions in a nested setting: endemic (restricted to the Galápagos Islands), insular (Galápagos and neighboring islands), and Panamic (tropical eastern Pacific). We used a combination of population structure and coalescent approaches to assess the degree of genetic population structure in the three groups of fish species. In addition, we evaluated the level of inter-island genetic diversity in endemic species to determine if Galápagos fishes, like their terrestrial counterparts, could be used as a system to study allopatric speciation in the sea. We found that in general, there was no correlation between distribution ranges, life history traits, and population structure, except for Dialommus fuscus Gilbert, 1891, a Galápagos endemic that lives in the uppermost intertidal area, and as predicted, shows very strong population structure. We found the highest number of statistically significant population pairwise F ST comparisons in endemic species. In addition, three out of four endemic species showed significant population pairwise F ST [D. fuscus, Lepidonectes corallicola (Kendall and Radcliffe, 1912), and Lythrypnus gilbert (Heller and Snodgrass, 1903)]. These results suggest that endemic Galápagos Islands reef fishes may be a promising group of species to study phylogeographic patterns of speciation.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2014

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  • The Bulletin of Marine Science is dedicated to the dissemination of high quality research from the world's oceans. All aspects of marine science are treated by the Bulletin of Marine Science, including papers in marine biology, biological oceanography, fisheries, marine affairs, applied marine physics, marine geology and geophysics, marine and atmospheric chemistry, and meteorology and physical oceanography.
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