The role of introgressive hybridization in the evolution of the Gila robusta complex (Teleostei: Cyprinidae)

Evolution. 2001 Oct;55(10):2028-39. doi: 10.1111/j.0014-3820.2001.tb01319.x.


The extent and impact of introgressive hybridization was examined in the Gila robusta complex of cyprinid fishes using mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) sequence variation. Lower Colorado River basin populations of G. robusta, G. elegans, and G. cypha exhibited distinct mtDNAs, with only limited introgression of G. elegans into G. cypha. The impact of hybridization was significant in upper Colorado River basin populations; most upper basin fishes sampled exhibited only G. cypha mtDNA haplotypes, with some individuals exhibiting mtDNA from G. elegans. The complete absence of G. robusta mtDNA, even in populations of morphologically pure G. robusta, indicates extensive introgression that predates human influence. Analysis of the geographic distribution of variation identified two distinctive G. elegans lineages; however, the small number of individuals and localities sampled precluded a comprehensive analysis. Analysis of haplotype and population networks for G. cypha mtDNAs from 15 localities revealed low divergence among haplotypes; however, significant frequency differences among populations within and among drainages were found, largely attributable to samples in the Little Colorado River region. This structure was not associated with G. cypha and G. robusta, as morphotypes from the same location are more similar than conspecific forms in other locations. This indicates that morphological and mtDNA variation are affected by different evolutionary forces in Colorado River Gila and illustrates how both hybridization and local adaptation can play important roles in evolution.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Carps / genetics
  • Carps / physiology
  • Cyprinidae / classification
  • Cyprinidae / genetics*
  • Cyprinidae / physiology
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / genetics
  • Fresh Water
  • Geography
  • Haplotypes
  • Hybridization, Genetic
  • Phylogeny
  • Restriction Mapping


  • DNA, Mitochondrial