Aim To test whether distributional patterns of Neotropical freshwater taxa fit the generalized tracks already postulated for terrestrial groups occurring in the Mexican Transition Zone.
Location The study units comprised 17 hydrological basins located along the Pacific coast of the Americas from Mexico to Panama, and in the Gulf of Mexico from the Papaloapan to the Grijalva–Usumacinta basin.
Methods Distributional data for 22 fish species, 34 crab species of the tribe Pseudothelphusini, and 22 strictly freshwater species of angiosperms were analysed. Parsimony analysis of endemicity is based on presence/absence data of these taxa and uses the computer programs Winclada and NONA.
Results Three generalized tracks were obtained: (1) Mexican North Pacific, (2) Mexican Central Pacific, and (3) Southern Mexico–Guatemala. A node resulted at the intersection of the first two tracks, coinciding with the Neovolcanic Axis in central Mexico.
Main conclusions Freshwater generalized tracks with an altitudinal distribution below 1000 m, mainly including fishes and angiosperms, are close to the Tropical Mesoamerican generalized track. Generalized tracks above 1000 m, including freshwater crabs, have a stronger affinity with the Mountain Mesoamerican track. The Isthmus of Tehuantepec represents a node for the Neotropical freshwater and terrestrial biota. These results seem to indicate that common geobiotic processes have induced these patterns.