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Recent invasion of the tropical Atlantic by an Indo-Pacific coral reef fish


Luiz A. Rocha, Fax: +507 2128714; E-mail:


The last tropical connection between Atlantic and Indian–Pacific habitats closed c. 2 million years ago (Ma), with the onset of cold-water upwelling off southwestern Africa. Yet comparative morphology indicates more recent connections in several taxa, including reef-associated gobies (genus Gnatholepis). Coalescence and phylogenetic analyses of mtDNA cytochrome b sequences demonstrate that Gnatholepis invaded the Atlantic during an interglacial period ∼145 000 years ago (d = 0.0054), colonizing from the Indian Ocean to the western Atlantic, and subsequently to the central (∼100 000 years ago) and eastern Atlantic (∼30 000 years ago). Census data show a contemporary range expansion in the northeastern Atlantic linked to global warming.