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Marine incursion: The freshwater herring of Lake Tanganyika are the products of a marine invasion into West Africa


Wilson, Anthony B; Teugels, Guy G; Meyer, Axel (2008). Marine incursion: The freshwater herring of Lake Tanganyika are the products of a marine invasion into West Africa. PLoS ONE, 3(4):e1979.

Abstract

The spectacular marine-like diversity of the endemic fauna of Lake Tanganyika, the oldest of the African Great Lakes, led early researchers to suggest that the lake must have once been connected to the ocean. Recent geophysical reconstructions clearly indicate that Lake Tanganyika formed by rifting in the African subcontinent and was never directly linked to the sea. Although the Lake has a high proportion of specialized endemics, the absence of close relatives outside Tanganyika has complicated phylogeographic reconstructions of the timing of lake colonization and intralacustrine diversification. The freshwater herring of Lake Tanganyika are members of a large group of pellonuline herring found in western and southern Africa, offering one of the best opportunities to trace the evolutionary history of members of Tanganyika’s biota. Molecular phylogenetic reconstructions indicate that herring colonized West Africa 25–50MYA, at the end of a major marine incursion in the region. Pellonuline herring subsequently experienced an evolutionary radiation in West Africa, spreading across the continent and reaching East Africa’s Lake Tanganyika during its early formation. While Lake Tanganyika has never been directly connected with the sea, the endemic freshwater herring of the lake are the descendents of an ancient marine
incursion, a scenario which may also explain the origin of other Tanganyikan endemics.

The spectacular marine-like diversity of the endemic fauna of Lake Tanganyika, the oldest of the African Great Lakes, led early researchers to suggest that the lake must have once been connected to the ocean. Recent geophysical reconstructions clearly indicate that Lake Tanganyika formed by rifting in the African subcontinent and was never directly linked to the sea. Although the Lake has a high proportion of specialized endemics, the absence of close relatives outside Tanganyika has complicated phylogeographic reconstructions of the timing of lake colonization and intralacustrine diversification. The freshwater herring of Lake Tanganyika are members of a large group of pellonuline herring found in western and southern Africa, offering one of the best opportunities to trace the evolutionary history of members of Tanganyika’s biota. Molecular phylogenetic reconstructions indicate that herring colonized West Africa 25–50MYA, at the end of a major marine incursion in the region. Pellonuline herring subsequently experienced an evolutionary radiation in West Africa, spreading across the continent and reaching East Africa’s Lake Tanganyika during its early formation. While Lake Tanganyika has never been directly connected with the sea, the endemic freshwater herring of the lake are the descendents of an ancient marine
incursion, a scenario which may also explain the origin of other Tanganyikan endemics.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
590 Animals (Zoology)
Language:English
Date:23 April 2008
Deposited On:28 Apr 2008 09:02
Last Modified:17 Aug 2016 08:30
Publisher:Public Library of Science (PLoS)
ISSN:1932-6203
Funders:National Research Council, Swiss National Science Foundation, Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0001979
PubMed ID:18431469
Permanent URL: http://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-2442

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