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Proc Biol Sci. 2002 Jan 7; 269(1486): 65–73.
PMCID: PMC1690865

A rapid fish radiation associated with the last sea-level changes in southern Brazil: the silverside Odontesthes perugiae complex.


Coastal freshwater fishes provide valuable models for studying the role of the last glaciations in promoting speciation. To date, the great majority of studies are of Northern Hemisphere taxa, and reflect the influence of vicariant events during, or prior to, the Pleistocene. Microsatellite markers and mitochondrial DNA sequences were used to investigate patterns of population divergence and evolutionary relationships in a freshwater group of silverside fishes (Odontesthes perugiae complex), endemic to the recently formed coastal plain of southern Brazil. Lacustrine morphotypes showed concordant patterns of genetic and morphological divergence consistent with the geographical history of the coastal plain. The results support the proposal of a silverside radiation chronologically shaped by the sea-level changes of the Pleistocene and Holocene. The radiating lineage comprises a minimum of three allopatric and two sympatric lacustrine species. Four species displayed extremely high levels of genetic variation and some of the most rapid speciation rates reported in fishes. These features were related to a marine-estuarine origin of the radiation. To the best of our knowledge, this study represents the first molecular phylogeographic survey of a coastal radiation in South America.

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Selected References

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