Mechanisms of speciation and faunal enrichment in Atlantic parrotfishes

Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2006 Sep;40(3):795-807. doi: 10.1016/j.ympev.2006.04.011. Epub 2006 Apr 28.


Relationships based on mtDNA and nDNA sequences were used to assess effects of two major geographic barriers (the >30 myo Atlantic ocean and the approximately 11 myo Amazon-Orinoco outflow) on speciation among Atlantic parrotfishes (Sparisoma and Nicholsina). Allopatric distributions of sister taxa implicate isolating actions of both barriers in all recent speciation in these fishes, with no clear indications that any speciation resulted from other mechanisms. Molecular clock estimates of the timing of lineage splits indicate that both barriers acted by limiting dispersal well after they formed, although the Amazon barrier also may have been a vicariance agent. Fluctuations in sealevel, climate, and ocean-current dynamics over the past approximately 10 my likely produced marked variation in the effectiveness of both barriers, but particularly the Amazon barrier, allowing intermittent dispersal leading to establishment and allopatric speciation. A dynamic Amazon barrier represents a major engine of West Atlantic faunal enrichment that has repeatedly facilitated bidirectional dispersal, allopatric speciation, and remixing of the Caribbean and Brazilian faunas.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Atlantic Ocean
  • Base Sequence
  • Cytochromes b / genetics
  • Genetic Speciation*
  • Genetic Variation
  • Geography
  • Mediterranean Sea
  • Perciformes / genetics*
  • Perciformes / physiology*
  • Phylogeny
  • Population Growth*
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / genetics
  • Species Specificity
  • Time


  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S
  • Cytochromes b