Statistical phylogeographic tests of competing 'Lake Carpentaria hypotheses' in the mouth-brooding freshwater fish, Glossamia aprion (Apogonidae)
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Glacial cycles during the Pleistocene reduced sea levels and created new land connections in northern Australia, where many currently isolated rivers also became connected via an extensive paleo-lake system, 'Lake Carpentaria'. However, the most recent period during which populations of freshwater species were connected by gene flow across Lake Carpentaria is debated: various 'Lake Carpentaria hypotheses' have been proposed. Here, we used a statistical phylogeographic approach to assess the timing of past population connectivity across the Carpentaria region in the obligate freshwater fish, Glossamia aprion. Results for this species indicate that the most recent period of genetic exchange across the Carpentaria region coincided with the mid- to late Pleistocene, a result shown previously for other freshwater and diadromous species. Based on these findings and published studies for various freshwater, diadromous and marine species, we propose a set of 'Lake Carpentaria' hypotheses to explain past population connectivity in aquatic species: (1) strictly freshwater species had widespread gene flow in the mid- to late Pleistocene before the last glacial maximum; (2) marine species were subdivided into eastern and western populations by land during Pleistocene glacial phases; and (3) past connectivity in diadromous species reflects the relative strength of their marine affinity.
Marine and freshwater research
Biogeography and Phylogeography