Aim To examine the effects of historical climate change and drainage isolation on the distribution of mitochondrial DNA cytochrome b genetic variation within the rainbow darter, Etheostoma caeruleum (Percidae: Etheostomatinae).
Location Eastern North American streams including tributaries to the Mississippi River, Great Lakes, Potomac River and Hudson Bay drainages.
Methods Parsimony analyses, Bayesian analyses and haplotype networks of mitochondrial DNA sequences.
Results Four major clades were recovered from sampled populations of E. caeruleum. Three of four clades are distributed in the western portion of the species’ range (primarily west of the Mississippi River). Samples from this region do not form a monophyletic group, and sequences often vary greatly between samples from adjacent stream systems (up to 7.2% divergence). A basal clade includes samples from the White River system in the Ozark Highlands. The northern Ozarks–upper Midwest clade includes samples from Missouri River tributaries and the upper Midwest (Hudson Bay, upper Mississippi River, and western Lake Michigan drainage). The eastern clade is composed of individuals from the Ohio River, Great Lakes and Potomac River. The Mississippi River corridor clade includes samples from middle and lower Mississippi River tributaries.
Main conclusions The four major clades of E. caeruleum are deep allopatric lineages with well-defined boundaries and have additional phylogeographical structure within each clade. The Ozark Highlands have the greatest levels of diversity relative to distributional area, with marked cytochrome b subdivisions between adjacent stream systems. Samples from previously glaciated areas do not have a subset of the cytochrome b diversity found in unglaciated areas, but four separate source areas are identified based on phylogenetic analyses. Dispersal into previously glaciated areas followed several known glacial outlets and, based on sequence divergence between populations, may have occurred during different glacial or interglacial stages. The disjunct distribution and cytochrome b pattern of E. caeruleum in the Mississippi River corridor clade is consistent with late Pleistocene and Recent changes in the course and characteristics of the middle and lower Mississippi River. Phylogeographical boundaries between clades of E. caeruleum correspond to independent sources of biogeographical information and provide insight into historical stream drainage relationships, post-glacial colonization and drainage isolation patterns.