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Evolutionary History of Lake Tanganyika's Predatory Deepwater Cichlids

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      Hybridization among littoral cichlid species in Lake Tanganyika was inferred in several molecular phylogenetic studies. The phenomenon is generally attributed to the lake level-induced shoreline and habitat changes. These allow for allopatric divergence of geographically fragmented populations alternating with locally restricted secondary contact and introgression between incompletely isolated taxa. In contrast, the deepwater habitat is characterized by weak geographic structure and a high potential for gene flow, which may explain the lower species richness of deepwater than littoral lineages. For the same reason, divergent deepwater lineages should have evolved strong intrinsic reproductive isolation already in the incipient stages of diversification, and, consequently, hybridization among established lineages should have been less frequent than in littoral lineages. We test this hypothesis in the endemic Lake Tanganyika deepwater cichlid tribe Bathybatini by comparing phylogenetic trees of Hemibates and Bathybates species obtained with nuclear multilocus AFLP data with a phylogeny based on mitochondrial sequences. Consistent with our hypothesis, largely congruent tree topologies and negative tests for introgression provided no evidence for introgressive hybridization between the deepwater taxa. Together, the nuclear and mitochondrial data established a well-supported phylogeny and suggested ecological segregation during speciation.

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          Hybridization and adaptive radiation.

           Ole Seehausen (2004)
          Whether interspecific hybridization is important as a mechanism that generates biological diversity is a matter of controversy. Whereas some authors focus on the potential of hybridization as a source of genetic variation, functional novelty and new species, others argue against any important role, because reduced fitness would typically render hybrids an evolutionary dead end. By drawing on recent developments in the genetics and ecology of hybridization and on principles of ecological speciation theory, I develop a concept that reconciles these views and adds a new twist to this debate. Because hybridization is common when populations invade new environments and potentially elevates rates of response to selection, it predisposes colonizing populations to rapid adaptive diversification under disruptive or divergent selection. I discuss predictions and suggest tests of this hybrid swarm theory of adaptive radiation and review published molecular phylogenies of adaptive radiations in light of the theory.

            Author and article information

            Department of Zoology, Karl-Franzens-University Graz, Universitätsplatz 2, 8010 Graz, Austria
            Author notes

            Academic Editor: R. Craig Albertson

            Int J Evol Biol
            Int J Evol Biol
            International Journal of Evolutionary Biology
            Hindawi Publishing Corporation
            17 May 2012
            : 2012
            Copyright © 2012 Paul C. Kirchberger et al.

            This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

            Research Article

            Evolutionary Biology


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