The Neotropics comprises the largest continental ichthyofauna on Earth with more than 5,600 species. This dissertation develops and implements several new methods in the emerging field of parametric biogeography to address long-standing questions on the role of landscape evolution in the formation of species-rich assemblages. The main goals are to: (i) investigate the contribution of dispersal and paleogeographic processes in the formation of contemporary species distributions of heroine cichlids and poeciliine guppies in the Central America and Greater Antilles (Chapter One); (ii) employ a novel strategy for evaluating the diversification of pimelodid catfishes under the influence of river capture in the Sub-Andean Foreland (Chapter Two); (iii) provide the most comprehensive model-based phylogeny of the Neotropical fish order Gymnotiformes (Chapter Three), and (iv) understand patterns of lineage diversification and phenotypic evolution in the Apteronotidae (Ghost knifefishes), an exceptional species rich clade of Amazonian electric fishes (Chapter Four). We conclude that coordinated dispersal of heroine cichlids and poeciliine guppies arose from geologically persistent landscape features of the Caribbean Plate, and the geologically persistent dispersal vector of the Proto-Amazon freshwater plume. We demonstrate that the taxon-area chronogram of pimelodids exhibits the characteristic biogeographic signature of river capture, and is consistent with the effects of three large-scale river capture events during the mid-Cenozoic formation of the Bolivian Orocline. We conclude that gymnotiforms with wave-type electric signal (Sinusoidea = Sternopygidae + Apteronotidae), are monophyletic, but that gymnotiforms with pulse-type electric signal (Gymnotidae and Rhamphichthyoidea) are not monophyletic. We conclude that Apteronotidae underwent rapid adaptive evolutionary radiation in the early Neogene, achieving peak diversification in the Lago Pebas mega-wetland region (Western Amazon). We ccnclude that the formation of species-rich Neotropical fish assemblages emerged from a combination of geological predictors and biological responses.
|Advisor:||Albert, James S.|
|Commitee:||Duke-Sylvester, Scott M., France, Scott C., Neigel, Joseph E., Wainwright, Peter|
|School:||University of Louisiana at Lafayette|
|School Location:||United States -- Louisiana|
|Source:||DAI-B 76/12(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Evolution and Development, Zoology, Environmental science, Aquatic sciences|
|Keywords:||Fishes, Neotropical, Parametric biogeography, Systematics|
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