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Journal Article

The evolution of microendemism in a reef fish (Hypoplectrus maya)

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Moran, B. M., Kosmas, H., Waples, R. S., Hoeppner, M. P., Baldwin, C. C., McMillan, W. O., et al. (2019). The evolution of microendemism in a reef fish (Hypoplectrus maya). MOLECULAR ECOLOGY, 28(11), 2872-2885. doi:10.1111/mec.15110.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0007-6271-B
Marine species tend to have extensive distributions, which are commonly attributed to the dispersal potential provided by planktonic larvae and the rarity of absolute barriers to dispersal in the ocean. Under this paradigm, the occurrence of marine microendemism without geographic isolation in species with planktonic larvae poses a dilemma. The recently described Maya hamlet (Hypoplectrus maya, Serranidae) is exactly such a case, being endemic to a 50-km segment of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System (MBRS). We use whole-genome analysis to infer the demographic history of the Maya hamlet and contrast it with the sympatric and pan-Caribbean black (H. nigricans), barred (H. puella) and butter (H. unicolor) hamlets, as well as the allopatric but phenotypically similar blue hamlet (H. gemma). We show that H. maya is indeed a distinct evolutionary lineage, with genomic signatures of inbreeding and a unique demographic history of continuous decrease in effective population size since it diverged from congeners just similar to 3,000 generations ago. We suggest that this case of microendemism may be driven by the combination of a narrow ecological niche and restrictive oceanographic conditions in the southern MBRS, which is consistent with the occurrence of an unusually high number of marine microendemics in this region. The restricted distribution of the Maya hamlet, its decline in both census and effective population sizes, and the degradation of its habitat place it at risk of extinction. We conclude that the evolution of marine microendemism can be a fast and dynamic process, with extinction possibly occurring before speciation is complete.