Faculty Publications


Recovering cryptic diversity and ancient drainage patterns in eastern North America: Historical biogeography of the Notropis rubellus species group (Teleostei: Cypriniformes)

Document Type



Biogeography, Central Highlands, Cryptic diversity, Cyprinidae, Drainage history, Notropis rubellus

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution





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The Central Highlands of North America contain a strikingly diverse assemblage of temperate freshwater fishes and have long been a focus of biogeographic studies. The rosyface shiner complex, Notropis rubellus and related species, is a member of this fauna exhibiting a disjunct highlands distribution occurring in the unglaciated regions of the Central Highlands and glaciated regions of the Central Lowlands. Until recently, N. rubellus was considered a single, widespread species exhibiting geographic variation in morphological characters. However, several studies have revealed that N. rubellus is a multi-species complex with closely related species endemic to drainages within each highland region. We examined genetic variation of the N. rubellus complex using a complete mtDNA cytochrome b gene sequence data set and combined mtDNA and published allozyme data sets. Parsimony and Bayesian analyses of the mitochondrial data set and parsimony analyses of a combined mitochondrial and allozyme data sets were largely consistent. Results of these analyses revealed ancient cryptic diversity within the N. rubellus complex that existed prior to the onset of Pleistocene glaciations. We identified seven strongly supported clades within the N. rubellus complex. Four clades are diagnosed as separate species (N. percobromus, N. rubellus, N. micropteryx and N. suttkusi) and three clades may represent undescribed forms. Relationships among these groups and their biogeographical patterns provided significant inferences on ichthyofaunal distributions in southeastern North America. These include the timing of the origin of the diversity, ancient drainage patterns and barriers to dispersal in the Central Highlands. The observation of increased diversity in N. rubellus suggests there may be greater diversity within other taxa with a similar distribution. © 2007 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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