Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Night of the Holocentrids: A Phylogenetic Perspective on the Evolutionary History of an Enigmatic Clade of Nocturnal Reef Fishes
by Dornburg, Alex, Ph.D., Yale University, 2014, 264; 3580668
Abstract (Summary)

The integration of advances in computing technology with major innovations in sequence data collection and phylogenetic inference has revolutionized evolutionary biology in the 21st century. In particular, the continual development of both theory and software that allow for more flexibility in utilizing molecular clock methods has radically transformed our understanding of the mode and tempo of diversification across the Tree of Life. Over the course of five chapters, this dissertation explores methodological challenges to phylogenetic inference with the aim of better understanding the evolutionary history of the Holocentridae (squirrelfishes and soldierfishes).

Chapter 1 begins by focusing on the problem of accommodating clade specific rate heterogeneity in molecular clock analyses. While various nucleotide substitution models have been developed to accommodate among lineage rate heterogeneity, recently developed "uncorrelated relaxed clock" and "random local clock" models are predicted to perform better in the presence of lineage specific rate heterogeneity as these models relax assumptions of inheritance of nucleotide substitution rates between descendant lineages. Using simulations and two cetacean (whale and dolphin) datasets as a case study, we demonstrate abrupt changes in rate isolated to one or a few lineages in the phylogeny can mislead rate and age estimation, even when the node of interest is calibrated; and provide suggestions for diagnosing extreme clade specific rate heterogeneity.

Homoplasy is another important, yet often overlooked, source of error in phylogenetic studies. Chapters 2 and 3 utilize phylogenetic informative approaches to screen nucleotide sequence data for homoplasious site patterns. Using phylogenetic informativeness profiles, chapter 2 reconciles two competing hypotheses of ray-finned fish divergence times by highlighting that mitogenomic based Jurassic and Triassic divergence time estimates for most major lineages of spiny-rayed (acanthomorph) fishes were an artifact of tree extension. Evolutionary relationships of early diverging acanthomorph fishes are also contentious, with molecular data supporting either holocentrids or a clade comprised of holocentrids and primarily deep-sea fishes as the sister lineage to the species-rich percomorpha. Chapter 3 reveals this conflict to also be largely driven by homoplasy and reconciles results based on previously published data with a 132 gene next-generation sequence dataset to identify the sister lineage of percomorph and the phylogenetic placement of holocentrid fishes.

Chapter 4 continues to explore holocentrid evolutionary relationships. Using a multi-locus dataset that includes all but one holocentrid genus, this chapter provides the first molecular phylogeny of the group. The systematics of holocentrid fishes has unstable for over 100 years. We demonstrate several of the key synapomorphies for holocentrid genera are in fact homoplasious. Likewise, several genera of holocentrine (squirrelfish) are rendered consistently paraphyletic by a series of maximum-likelihood and Bayesian analyses and we propose taxonomic revisions to reflect shared ancestry.

Chapter 5 further investigates the temporal history of holocentrid evolution. Contemporary holocentrid species richness is concentrated in the Indo-Australian Archipelago (IAA), yet these fishes also represent some of the most numerous fossil taxa in deposits of the Eocene West Tethyan biodiversity hotspot. Using likelihood-based methods integrated with a molecular timetree that incorporates fossils as tip taxa, we reconstruct the history of range evolution for these fishes. Following the collapse of the West Tethys, holocentrids exhibit a signature of increased range fragmentation, becoming isolated between the Atlantic and Indo-Pacific Ocean basins. However, rather than originating within the emerging IAA hotspot, the IAA appears to have acted as a reservoir for holocentrid diversity that originated in adjacent regions over deep evolutionary timescales. By integrating extinct lineages, these results provide a necessary historic perspective on the formation and maintenance of global marine biodiversity.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Near, Thomas J.
School: Yale University
School Location: United States -- Connecticut
Source: DAI-B 75/09(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Systematic, Zoology
Keywords: Anchored hybrid enrichment, Biogeography, Fossil, Homoplasy, Molecular clock, Phylogenomics
Publication Number: 3580668
ISBN: 978-1-321-04828-5
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