3 years ago

Multiple independent colonizations into the Congo Basin during the continental radiation of African Mastacembelus spiny eels

Antoine Fages, Melanie L. J. Stiassny, Katherine J. Brown, Roger Bills, Julia J. Day, John P. Friel, Emmanuel J. Vreven, Lukas Rüber
Aim There has been recent interest in the origin and assembly of continental biotas based on densely sampled species-level clades, however, studies from African freshwaters are few so that the commonality of macroevolutionary patterns and processes among continental clades remain to be tested. Within the Afrotropics, the Congo Basin contains the highest diversity of riverine fishes, yet it is unclear how this fauna was assembled. To address this, and the diversification dynamics of a continental radiation, we focus on African Mastacembelus spiny eels. Location Afrotropical freshwaters. Methods The most complete molecular phylogeny to date was reconstructed for African spiny eels. Divergence times were estimated applying a Bayesian relaxed clock comparing fossil and geological calibrations across nuclear and mitochondrial trees. Biogeographic reconstructions, applying a dispersal–extinction–cladogenesis model and lineage diversification dynamics were examined. Results Spiny eels originated in Asia and colonized Africa c. 15.4 Ma (95% HPD: 23.9–8.8 Ma) from which their subsequent radiation across the Afrotropics was best fitted by a constant rate model. Ancestral state estimation identified multiple colonization events into the Congo Basin, whereas all other regions were likely to have been colonized once indicating considerable geographic constraints. Application of the fossil calibration gave similar age estimates across datasets, whereas a geological calibration estimated considerably older nuclear divergences. Main conclusions Despite profound environmental events during the evolutionary history of the group, there is no evidence for rapid lineage diversification. This finding supports several recent studies on tropical continental radiations that contrast to the common pattern of density-dependent diversification. We further show that dispersal has occurred into, as well as out of the Congo Basin, indicating the importance of this region in the generation of biodiversity.

Publisher URL: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/resolve/doi

DOI: 10.1111/jbi.13037

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