• Galaxias;
  • mtDNA;
  • control region;
  • biogeography;
  • phylogenetics;
  • diadromy

Mitochondrial control region sequence variation was examined in the Galaxias vulgaris complex, a group of freshwater-limited galaxiid fishes endemic to South Island, New Zealand. Phylogenetic analyses were used to test the monophyly of seven non-migratory (G. vulgaris complex) and one migratory (G. brevipinnis) species. Newly-described taxa, some diagnosed on the basis of subtle differences in morphology, are associated with strongly monophyletic mtDNA lineages. Although the current taxonomy is supported generally, sequence data suggest that Southland G. anomalus should be attributed to G. gollumoides, whereas Southland and Stewart Island G. depressiceps represent a new southern lineage. Molecular clock calibrations suggest that migratory and non-migratory forms, separated by a maximum of 6·4% sequence divergence, diverged no earlier than the mid-late Pliocene. Biogeographical implications of high diversity (eight lineages) in the south (Otago-Southland) and low diversity (one lineage) in central South Island (Canterbury) are discussed. The unresolved relationships among species may reflect a rapid evolutionary radiation, essentially a star phylogeny.