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Keywords:

  • Approximate Bayesian computation;
  • genetic divergence;
  • Midas cichlid species complex;
  • mtDNA;
  • Nicaragua;
  • phylogeography

Volcanic crater lakes are isolated habitats that are particularly well suited to investigating ecological and evolutionary divergence and modes of speciation. However, the mode, frequency, and timing of colonization of crater lakes have been difficult to determine. We used a statistical comparative phylogeographic approach, based on a mitochondrialDNA dataset, to infer the colonization history of two Nicaraguan crater lakes by populations of genetically and ecologically divergent cichlid lineages: Midas (Amphilophus cf. citrinellus complex) and moga (Hypsophrys nematopus). We compared estimates of diversity among populations within the two cichlid lineages and found that Midas were the most genetically diverse. From an approximate Bayesian computation analysis, we inferred that the crater lakes were each founded by both cichlid lineages in single waves of colonization: Masaya 5800 ± 300 years ago and Xiloá 5400 ± 750 years ago. We conclude that natural events are likely to have a dominant role in colonization of the crater lakes. Further, our findings suggest that the higher species richness and more rapid evolution of the Midas species complex, relative to other lineages of fishes in the same crater lakes, cannot be explained by earlier or more numerous colonization events.