Phylogeny, diversification, and biogeography of a hemiclonal hybrid system of native Australian freshwater fishes (Gobiiformes: Gobioidei: Eleotridae: Hypseleotris)

Christine E. Thacker, James J. Shelley, W. Tyler McCraney, Mark Adams, Michael P. Hammer, Peter J. Unmack

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Background: Carp gudgeons (genus Hypseleotris) are a prominent part of the Australian freshwater fish fauna, with species distributed around the western, northern, and eastern reaches of the continent. We infer a calibrated phylogeny of the genus based on nuclear ultraconserved element (UCE) sequences and using Bayesian estimation of divergence times, and use this phylogeny to investigate geographic patterns of diversification with GeoSSE. The southeastern species have hybridized to form hemiclonal lineages, and we also resolve relationships of hemiclones and compare their phylogenetic placement in the UCE phylogeny with a hypothesis based on complete mitochondrial genomes. We then use phased SNPs extracted from the UCE sequences for population structure analysis among the southeastern species and hemiclones. Results: Hypseleotris cyprinoides, a widespread euryhaline species known from throughout the Indo-Pacific, is resolved outside the remainder of the species. Two Australian radiations comprise the bulk of Hypseleotris, one primarily in the northwestern coastal rivers and a second inhabiting the southeastern region including the Murray–Darling, Bulloo-Bancannia and Lake Eyre basins, plus coastal rivers east of the Great Dividing Range. Our phylogenetic results reveal cytonuclear discordance between the UCE and mitochondrial hypotheses, place hemiclone hybrids among their parental taxa, and indicate that the genus Kimberleyeleotris is nested within the northwestern Hypseleotris radiation along with three undescribed species. We infer a crown age for Hypseleotris of 17.3 Ma, date the radiation of Australian species at roughly 10.1 Ma, and recover the crown ages of the northwestern (excluding H. compressa) and southeastern radiations at 5.9 and 7.2 Ma, respectively. Range-dependent diversification analyses using GeoSSE indicate that speciation and extinction rates have been steady between the northwestern and southeastern Australian radiations and between smaller radiations of species in the Kimberley region and the Arnhem Plateau. Analysis of phased SNPs confirms inheritance patterns and reveals high levels of heterozygosity among the hemiclones. Conclusions: The northwestern species have restricted ranges and likely speciated in allopatry, while the southeastern species are known from much larger areas, consistent with peripatric speciation or allopatric speciation followed by secondary contact. Species in the northwestern Kimberley region differ in shape from those in the southeast, with the Kimberley species notably more elongate and slender than the stocky southeastern species, likely due to the different topographies and flow regimes of the rivers they inhabit.

Original languageEnglish
Article number22
Pages (from-to)1-23
Number of pages23
JournalBMC Ecology and Evolution
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022


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