Phylogenomics and biogeography of arid-adapted Chlamydogobius goby fishes

Krystina D. Mossop, Alan R. Lemmon, Emily Moriarty Lemmon, Ron Eytan, Mark Adams, Peter J. Unmack, Katie Smith Date, Hernán E. Morales, Michael P. Hammer, Bob B.M. Wong, David G. Chapple

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


The progressive aridification of the Australian continent from ∼ 20 million years ago posed severe challenges for the persistence of its resident biota. A key question involves the role of refugial habitats – specifically, their ability to mediate the effects of habitat loss and fragmentation, and their potential to shape opportunities for allopatric speciation. With freshwater species, for example, the patchiness, or absence, of water will constrain distributions. However, aridity may not necessarily isolate populations if disjunct refugia experience frequent hydrological connections. To investigate this potential dichotomy, we explored the evolutionary history of the Chlamydogobius gobies (Gobiiformes: Gobiidae), an arid-adapted genus of six small, benthic fish species that exploit all types of waterbodies (i.e. desert springs, waterholes and bore-fed wetlands, coastal estuarine creeks and mangroves) across parts of central and northern Australia. We used Anchored Phylogenomics to generate a highly resolved phylogeny of the group from sequence data for 260 nuclear loci. Buttressed by companion allozyme and mtDNA datasets, our molecular findings infer the diversification of Chlamydogobius in arid Australia, and provide a phylogenetic structure that cannot be simply explained by invoking allopatric speciation events reflecting current geographic proximity. Our findings are generally consistent with the existing morphological delimitation of species, with one exception: at the shallowest nodes of phylogenetic reconstruction, the molecular data do not fully support the current dichotomous delineation of C. japalpa from C. eremius in Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre-associated waterbodies. Together these findings illustrate the ability of structural (hydrological) connections to generate patterns of connectivity and isolation for an ecologically moderate disperser in response to ongoing habitat aridification. Finally, we explore the implications of these results for the immediate management of threatened (C. gloveri) and critically endangered (C. micropterus, C. squamigenus) congeners.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107757
Number of pages13
JournalMolecular Phylogenetics and Evolution
Publication statusPublished - May 2023


  • Allopatric speciation
  • Climate shift
  • Connectivity
  • Dispersal
  • Fragmentation
  • Phylogenetics
  • Refuge

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