One of the original goals of phylogeography was to use genetic data to identify historical events that might contribute to breaks among communities. In this study, we examine the phylogeography of a common livebearing fish (Poecilia gillii) from Costa Rica. Our goal was to determine if phylogeographical breaks in this species were congruent with previously defined boundaries among four fish community provinces. We hypothesized that if abiotic factors influence both community boundaries and genetic structuring in P. gillii then we might find four clades within our focal species that were geographically separated along community boundary lines. Similarly, we expected to find most of the genetic variation in P. gillii partitioned among these four geographical regions. We generated DNA sequence data (mitochondrial cytochrome b and nuclear S7 small ribosomal subunit) for 260 individuals from 42 populations distributed across Costa Rica. We analysed these data using phylogenetic (parsimony and likelihood) and coalescent approaches to estimate phylogenetic relationships among haplotypes, patterns of gene flow and effective population size. Contrary to our expectations, we did not find four monophyletic groups that mapped cleanly to our geographical community provinces. However, one of our clades was restricted to a single province, suggesting that common earth history events could be responsible for both genetic structuring in P. gillii and fish community composition in this area. However, our results show a complex pattern of gene flow throughout other regions in Costa Rica where genetic structuring is not predicted by community province boundaries.
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