Intraspecific phylogeography of Percina evides (Percidae: Etheostomatinae): an additional test of the Central Highlands pre-Pleistocene vicariance hypothesis


Thomas J. Near. ‡Present address: Center for Population Biology, University of California, Davis, CA 95616, USA. Fax: (530) 752–1149; E-mail:


North America exhibits the most diverse freshwater fish fauna among temperate regions of the world. Species diversity is concentrated in the Central Highlands, drained by the Mississippi, Gulf Slope and Atlantic Slope river systems. Previous investigations of Central Highlands biogeography have led to conflicting hypotheses involving dispersal and vicariance to explain the diversity and distribution of the freshwater fish fauna. In this investigation predictions of the Central Highlands pre-Pleistocene vicariance hypothesis are tested with a phylogeographic analysis of the percid species Percina evides, which is widely distributed in several disjunct areas of the Central Highlands. Phylogenetic analysis of complete gene sequences of mitochondrially encoded cytochrome b recover three phylogroups, with very low levels of sequence polymorphism within groups. The two western phylogroups are monophyletic with respect to the eastern phylogroup. The recovery of two monophyletic lineages with an eastern and western distribution in the disjunct highland areas is a pattern expected from vicariance, but is not predicted by the Central Highlands pre-Pleistocene vicariance hypothesis. The recovery of very limited mitochondrial DNA polymorphism and lack of phylogeographic structuring across the entire range of the eastern clade, very shallow polymorphism between the disjunct Missouri River and upper Mississippi River populations, and lack of sequence polymorphism in the upper Mississippi River populations, support a hypothesis of dispersal during or following the Pleistocene. The present distribution of P. evides is best explained by both vicariant and dispersal events.