Is the medium the message? Functional diversity across abiotic gradients in freshwater electric fishes

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:2022
Authors:Ford, K. L., Albert J. S.
Date Published:Mar-28-2022
ISSN:1540-7063, 1557-7023

Abstract Evolutionary transitions across abiotic gradients can occur among habitats at multiple spatial scales, and among taxa and biotas through a range of ecological and evolutionary time frames. Two diverse groups of electric fishes, Neotropical Gymnotiformes and Afrotropical Mormyroidea, offer interesting examples of potentially convergent evolution in aspects of morphological, physiological, and life history traits. We examined biogeographical, morphological, and functional patterns across these two groups to assess the degree of convergence in association with abiotic environmental variables. While there are superficial similarities across the groups and continents, we found substantially more differences in terms of habitat occupancy, electric signal diversity, and morphological disparity. These differences likely correlate to differences in biogeographical histories across the Neotropics and Afrotropics, biotic factors associated with aquatic life and electric signals, and sampling issues plaguing both groups. Additional research and sampling are required to make further inferences about how electric fishes transition throughout diverse freshwater habitats across both microevolutionary and macroevolutionary scales. We find little evidence that abiotic gradients in the freshwater habitat medium have driven convergent evolution of functional traits in these two continental radiations of electric fishes.

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Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith