EEB Thursday Seminar: River capture promotes evolutionary diversification in continental freshwaters
James Albert, Professor, Department of Biology, University of Louisiana at Lafayette
Neotropical freshwaters house one of the greatest concentration of species and phenotypes on Earth, with more than 8,000 fish species representing approximately 10% of all living vertebrates combined, compressed into a tiny volume of aquatic habitat. The diversity of Neotropical freshwater fishes long predates the geological formation of the modern Amazon and Orinoco river basins, and the unparalleled diversity we observe today arose from an excess of speciation over extinction rates operating over a lengthy time period of tens of millions of years. In this paper we summarize the major phylogenetic and biogeographic dimensions of the Neotropical ichthyofauna, and review recent advances in understanding the roles of paleogeography, river capture, and other landscape evolution processes contributing to the formation of this singular fauna.
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