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Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2006 Mar;38(3):808-19. Epub 2005 Sep 19.

Ancient origins of Indo-Pacific coral reef fish biodiversity: a case study of the leopard wrasses (Labridae: Macropharyngodon).

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Centre for Coral Reef Biodiversity, Department of Marine Biology, The School of Marine Biology and Aquaculture, James Cook University, Townsville, Qld. 4811, Australia.


Temporal origins of reef fishes in the Indo-Australian Archipelago were examined using wrasses in the genus Macropharyngodon. The genus was selected as it is morphologically and ecologically distinct, with strongly reef-associated species exhibiting discrete distributions across the Indo-Pacific. Phylogenetic relationships were explored using COI, 16S, and 12S rRNA mitochondrial sequences. Monophyly of the genus was supported by congruent Bayesian, maximum likelihood, and maximum parsimony trees. Estimates of lineage ages based on fossil-calibrated reef fish divergences suggest that Macropharyngodon had an extensive evolutionary history starting in the early Miocene. Repeated divergences of Indian Ocean-Pacific Ocean lineages appear to have occurred over at least 19 million years. Regional endemics represent both old and young clades. Our estimates of early Miocene origins, and mid-Miocene to Pliocene diversifications of Macropharyngodon are supported by recent studies of other reef fish genera, and emphasise the importance of pre-Pleistocene events in generating Indo-Pacific coral reef fish biodiversity.

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