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Ancient origin and recent divergence of a haplochromine cichlid lineage from isolated water bodies in the East African Rift system

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Tel.: +43 (0) 316 380 3978; email: stephan.koblmueller@uni-graz.at

Abstract

Phylogenetic analysis identified haplochromine cichlids from isolated water bodies in the eastern branch of the East African Rift system as an ancient lineage separated from their western sister group in the course of the South Kenyan–North Tanzanian rift system formation. Within this lineage, the close phylogenetic relatedness among taxa indicates a recent common ancestry and historical connections between now separated water bodies. In connection with a total lack of local genetic diversity attributable to population bottlenecks, the data suggest cycles of extinction and colonization in the unstable habitat provided by the small lakes and rivers in this geologically highly active area.

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