Phylogeny of the Neotropical Killifish Family Rivulidae (Cyprinodontiformes, Aplocheiloidei) Inferred from Mitochondrial DNA Sequences Academic Article uri icon


  • Phylogenetic relationships of 70 taxa representing 68 species of the Neotropical killifish family Rivulidae were derived from analysis of 1516 nucleotides sampled from four different segments of the mitochondrial genome: 12S rRNA, 16S rRNA, cytochrome oxidase I, and cytochrome b. The basal bifurcation of Cynolebiatinae and Rivulinae (Costa, 1990a,b) is supported; however, Terranatos, Maratecoara, and Plesiolebias are rivulins, not cynolebiatins. These three genera, along with the other recognized annual rivulin genera, form a monophyletic clade. Austrofundulus, Rachovia, Renova, Terranatos, and 3 species of the genus Pterolebias, all from northeastern South America, form a monophyletic clade excluding other species of Pterolebias. Pterolebias as presently understood is clearly polyphyletic. Trigonectes and Moema are supported as sister groups but do not form a monophyletic group with the genera Neofundulus and Renova as previously proposed. The suite of adaptations necessary for an annual life history has clearly been lost several times in the course of rivulid evolution. Also revealed is a considerable increase in substitution rate in most annual lineages relative to the nonannual Rivulus species. The widespread and speciose genus Rivulus is paraphyletic, representing both basal and terminal clades within the Rivulidae. Previous hypotheses regarding the vicariant origin of Greater Antillean Rivulus species are supported. Most rivulid clades show considerable endemism; thus, detailed analysis of rivulid phylogeny and distribution will contribute robust hypotheses to the clarification of Neotropical biogeography.

author list (cited authors)

  • Murphy, W. J., Thomerson, J. E., & Collier, G. E.

citation count

  • 57

complete list of authors

  • Murphy, WJ||Thomerson, JE||Collier, GE

publication date

  • November 1999