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Proc Biol Sci. 2006 Sep 7;273(1598):2209-17.

Adaptive radiation and hybridization in Wallace's Dreamponds: evidence from sailfin silversides in the Malili Lakes of Sulawesi.

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Institute for Genetics, University of Cologne, Weyertal 121, 50931 Köln, Germany.


Adaptive radiations are extremely useful to understand factors driving speciation. A challenge in speciation research is to distinguish forces creating novelties and those relevant to divergence and adaptation. Recently, hybridization has regained major interest as a potential force leading to functional novelty and to the genesis of new species. Here, we show that introgressive hybridization is a prominent phenomenon in the radiation of sailfin silversides (Teleostei: Atheriniformes: Telmatherinidae) inhabiting the ancient Malili Lakes of Sulawesi, correlating conspicuously with patterns of increased diversity. We found the most diverse lacustrine species-group of the radiation to be heavily introgressed by genotypes originating from streams of the lake system, an effect that has masked the primary phylogenetic pattern of the flock. We conclude that hybridization could have acted as a key factor in the generation of the flock's spectacular diversity. To our knowledge, this is the first empirical evidence for massive reticulate evolution within a complex animal radiation.

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