Unraveling the systematics and evolution of the ‘Geophagus’ brasiliensis (Cichliformes: Cichlidae) species complex

By Araujo Argolo, Leandro & H. López-Fernánde, H. Batalha-Filho, P.R. Antunes de Mello Affonso

Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, v. 150(n. 106855) 2020. DOI: 10.1016/j.ympev.2020.106855


" The ‘Geophagus’ brasiliensis complex is one of the most abundant groups of cichlids from eastern coastal basins in South America. Traditionally, this fish group has been recognized as incertae sedis because of phylogenetic uncertainties and unclear taxonomy. In addition, the remarkable morphological, chromosomal, and DNA variation reported over recent years in several populations of these cichlids has increased the debate about their species richness and their distributional range. Here, we tested the presence of independent evolutionary lineages within the ‘G.’ brasiliensis complex, addressing their taxonomic status and evolutionary relationships, including a comparative analysis of genetic and morphological patterns, based on an extensive dataset, comprising 172 sampling sites along most of their known range using a mitochondrial marker, RADseq data and geometric morphometrics. The number of putative species in the present study varied from 9 to 11 depending on the molecular species delimitation methods used. Our results revealed at least two putative new taxa (‘Geophagus’ sp. Doce and ‘Geophagus’ sp. Upper Contas). Morphometric analyses, particularly those based on Canonical Variate Analysis (CVA), revealed significant morphological differentiation between species within the main clades. On the other hand, analyses of morphological phylogenetic signal and phylomorphospace provided no evidence of adaptive differentiation among these species. Thus, diversification in the ‘G.’ brasiliensis complex seems to have been influenced by hydrogeological events that promoted allopatry, such as the presence of paleodrainages and distributional reconfiguration through river captures. We propose major changes in the known distribution of some species within the complex and conservatively suggest the recognition of 10 species within the ‘Geophagus’ brasiliensis complex, with the potential for further dividing ‘G.’ rufomarginatus after additional taxonomic evaluation "

Classification: Taxonomy and phylogeny, South America.

Language: English

Araujo Argolo, Leandro & H. López-Fernánde, H. Batalha-Filho, P.R. Antunes de Mello Affonso. 2020. "Unraveling the systematics and evolution of the ‘Geophagus’ brasiliensis (Cichliformes: Cichlidae) species complex". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. v. 150(n. 106855). DOI: 10.1016/j.ympev.2020.106855 (crc09772) (abstract)