Aim To explore global patterns of riverine fish endemism by applying an island biogeography framework to river drainage basins and highlight evolutionary mechanisms producing two kinds of endemism: neo-endemism, arising from within-drainage cladogenetic speciation, and palaeo-endemism, arising from species range contraction or anagenetic speciation.
Methods We use a uniquely comprehensive data set of riverine fish species distributions to map global fish endemism patterns. We then use the relationships between (1) total species richness and proportions of endemic species and (2) total species richness and a measure of in situ (i.e. within-drainage basin) probability of speciation by cladogenesis, to identify the two distinct forms of endemism. After separating drainage basins into two different sets according to dominance of one of these two forms, we apply a model averaging procedure to highlight, for both datasets, the environmental and historical variables that better explain endemism patterns. We finally analyse the effect of biotic components related to dispersal ability on the percentages of both kinds of endemism among lineages.
Results Our results indicate that the two types of endemism are distributed differently across space and taxonomic lineages: (1) neo-endemism, positively related to the overall richness of the drainage basin, is essentially linked to in situ cladogenetic speciation and is positively related to drainage basin area, negatively related to climate variability since glacial periods and negatively related to all proxies of dispersal ability; and (2) palaeo-endemism, not directly contributing to drainage basin richness, is a pure process of extinction through range contraction and/or isolation through time and is mostly related to geographic isolation, glacial history and positively related to marine-derived origin of families.
Main conclusions The non-random spatial and taxonomic distribution of neo-endemism and palaeo-endemism sharply reflects the role of evolutionary processes and provides a way to identify areas of high conservation interest based on their high present and future diversification potential.