Evolution of diadromy and larval dispersal in the Kuhliidae (Teleostei: Percoidei)

Evolution of diadromy and larval dispersal in the Kuhliidae (Teleostei: Percoidei)

Fri, 05/10/2012 - 09:30

About the Presenter

Dr Pierre Feutry

Dr Pierre Feutry is an evolutionary ecologist with interests in tropical aquatic systems.

He has a background in fish biology, otolith microstructure/microchemistry and genetics. He has particular interest in fish migration.

Pierre is currently a NERP/NAMRA postdoctoral fellow working on the Marine Biodiversity Hub project 'Supporting Management of Listed and Rare Species'. He works on the close-kin component of the project and other molecular techniques.


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The Kuhliidae family consists of 12 species from tropical waters of the Indo-Pacific region. In this family, half of the species are marine, whereas the others are found in rivers and estuaries of insular systems. In tropical islands most of the freshwater fauna are diadromous (i.e. that undergo regular migrations between marine and freshwater biomes in their life).

Diadromy is well suited to colonization and persistence in these isolated systems that experience drastic climatic and hydrological variations. Microchemistry analyses of the otoliths of riverine Kuhlia species confirmed the existence of an obligatory marine larval phase and thus their diadromous status. Those analyses also showed that the use of freshwater and estuarine habitats was very variable at the intra-specific level.

A phylogeny of Kuhliidae was used to reconstruct the evolution of migration, which demonstrated that ancestral Kuhlia species were diadromous with a secondary transition toward a marine life cycle.

The dispersal abilities of diadromous Kuhlia species were investigated using three methods: (i) pelagic larval duration; (ii) modelling of larvae dispersal and (iii) population genetics. All methods suggested low dispersal abilities in the Kuhliidae, even though dispersal is assumed to be essential for their persistence.

These results have important implication for the comprehension of tropical insular freshwater system ecology and the evolution of diadromy.

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