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Exceptional levels of species discovery ameliorate inferences of the biogeography and diversification of an Afrotropical catfish family

Day, Julia J; Steell, Elizabeth M; Vigliotta, Thomas R; Withey, Lewis A; Bills, Roger; Friel, John P; Genner, Martin J; (2023) Exceptional levels of species discovery ameliorate inferences of the biogeography and diversification of an Afrotropical catfish family. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution , 182 , Article 107754. 10.1016/j.ympev.2023.107754. Green open access

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Abstract

Endeavours in species discovery, particularly the characterisation of cryptic species, have been greatly aided by the application of DNA molecular sequence data to phylogenetic reconstruction and inference of evolutionary and biogeographic processes. However, the extent of cryptic and undescribed diversity remains unclear in tropical freshwaters, where biodiversity is declining at alarming rates. To investigate how data on previously undiscovered biodiversity impacts inferences of biogeography and diversification dynamics, we generated a densely sampled species-level family tree of Afrotropical Mochokidae catfishes (220 valid species) that was ca. 70% complete. This was achieved through extensive continental sampling specifically targeting the genus Chiloglanis a specialist of the relatively unexplored fast-flowing lotic habitat. Applying multiple species-delimitation methods, we report exceptional levels of species discovery for a vertebrate genus, conservatively delimiting a staggering ca. 50 putative new Chiloglanis species, resulting in a near 80% increase in species richness for the genus. Biogeographic reconstructions of the family identified the Congo Basin as a critical region in the generation of mochokid diversity, and further revealed complex scenarios for the build-up of continental assemblages of the two most species rich mochokid genera, Synodontis and Chiloglanis. While Syndontis showed most divergence events within freshwater ecoregions consistent with largely in situ diversification, Chiloglanis showed much less aggregation of freshwater ecoregions, suggesting dispersal as a key diversification process in this older group. Despite the significant increase in mochokid diversity identified here, diversification rates were best supported by a constant rate model consistent with patterns in many other tropical continental radiations. While our findings highlight fast-flowing lotic freshwaters as potential hotspots for undescribed and cryptic species diversity, a third of all freshwater fishes are currently threatened with extinction, signifying an urgent need to increase exploration of tropical freshwaters to better characterise and conserve its biodiversity.

Type: Article
Title: Exceptional levels of species discovery ameliorate inferences of the biogeography and diversification of an Afrotropical catfish family
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.ympev.2023.107754
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ympev.2023.107754
Language: English
Additional information: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The images or other third-party material in this article are included in the Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in the credit line; if the material is not included under the Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission from the license holder to reproduce the material. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences > Genetics, Evolution and Environment
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10166310
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