Aim To test the hypothesis that the vicariant event responsible for north–south divergences in two clades of the fish genus Poeciliopsis Regan was also responsible for north–south divergences in the fish Poecilia butleri Jordan.
Location Central Mexico.
Methods Parsimony, distance, maximum likelihood and Bayesian phylogenetic analyses of a mitochondrial gene. Molecular clock test and Bayesian analyses of divergence time.
Results We report concordant phylogeographical patterns between two clades in the genus Poeciliopsis (i.e. the other formed by P. latidens Garman and P. fasciata Meek, and the other formed by P. presidionis Jordan and P. turneri Miller) and the clade of Poecilia butleri, with northern and southern individuals within each clade grouping into separate lineages. There is also evidence for slower substitution rates in Poecilia compared with Poeciliopsis. After taking into account these substitution rate discrepancies with Bayesian relaxed molecular clock analyses, north–south divergences in Poecilia butleri were equivalent to those reported for Poeciliopsis latidens-fasciata and P. presidionis-turneri.
Main conclusions The same Plio-Pleistocene vicariant event associated with geological activity of the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt (TMVB) appears to have caused divergence in three different freshwater fish lineages. This study is an example of how comparative phylogeography can strengthen inferences about vicariant events in regions of high biological diversity and complex geological history such as the TMVB.