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Diversity and evolution of Gymnotiformes (Teleostei, Ostariophysi)

Grant number: 16/19075-9
Support type:Research Projects - Thematic Grants
Duration: August 01, 2017 - July 31, 2022
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Zoology
Principal Investigator:Naércio Aquino Menezes
Grantee:
Home Institution: Museu de Zoologia (MZ). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo, SP, Brazil
Co-Principal Investigators:Aléssio Datovo da Silva
Assoc. researchers:Angela Maria Zanata ; Carl J Ferraris ; Carlos David Canabarro Machado de Santana ; Carole C Baldwin ; Casey Dillman ; Dahiana Katherine Arcila Mesa ; Fernando Cesar Paiva Dagosta ; Henrique Rosa Varella ; Janine Marlies Ziermann ; Jansen Alfredo Sampaio Zuanon ; Jonathan Coddington ; Manoela Maria Marinho Koh ; Mark Sabaj Perez ; Michel Donato Gianeti ; Osvaldo Takeshi Oyakawa ; Priscila Camelier de Assis Cardoso ; Raimundo Nonato Gomes Mendes Júnior ; Renildo Ribeiro de Oliveira ; Ricardo Betancur R ; Tiago Pinto Carvalho ; Tulio Franco Teixeira ; Vicki Ann Funk ; WILLIAM GARETH RICHARD CRAMPTON ; Wolmar Benjamin Wosiacki

Abstract

Why study neotropical electric fishes? A comprehensive inventory of Gymnotiformes is essential in order to completely understand the full breadth of diversity from all lineages of primary freshwater fishes in the Ostariophysi. In addition, Gymnotiformes are an excellent group to study processes underlying continental scale diversity due to their endemicity, monophyly and asymmetric species richness within lineages. Further, the study of neotropical electric fishes might help to elucidate the evolution of complex anatomical structures across the Ostariophysi and to understand the process of generation of electricity by animals. In this project, data from morphology, DNA, and patterns of the electric organ discharges will be integrated into a multidisciplinary approach uncommon in ichthyological systematic studies in South America. This process will generate studies including taxonomy, comparative anatomy, phylogeography, phylogeny, and niche modeling to document various aspects of the diversity and evolutionary history of these unique fishes. Based on the taxonomic (species inventory) and phylogenetic (relationships at various hierarchical levels) components of the proposal, associated with comparative phylogenetic methods, the project will provide study cases in macroevolutionary (species-level and above) and microevolutionary (within species) scenarios to answer the following questions: 1. How many species are present in the order Gymnotiformes?; 2. What are the relationships among these species?; 3. What are the temporal and biogeographic scenarios under which Gymnotiformes diversified?; 4. Is the asymmetric diversity of species in sister clades the result of adaptive radiation events?; 5. What role did geomorphological events in the Miocene play for the current wealth of fish species in South America?; 6. What role did climate fluctuations in the Pleistocene play for the current diversity of fish species in South America?; 7. Is the morphological stasis that is present in some species of Neotropical Electric Fishes due to phylogenetic niche conservatism?; and 8. Which morphological characters carry phylogenetic signal. Preliminary results indicate that the integrative approach herein proposed might increase by 50% the number of currently recognized species in the Gymnotiformes and generate the most complete hypotheses of phylogenetic relationships ever made for the order. In addition to publishing numerous scientific papers, this effort will serve as a training ground for a new generation of ichthyologists at various academic levels at MZUSP and NMNH using an integrated methodology in the study of biodiversity. Implementation of this proposal will involve the scientific communities of both MZUSP and NMNH, by conducting workshops and special courses in the graduate program of MZUSP. Educational outreach activities will be conducted through the Q?rius program at the NMNH, and the MZUSP education department. (AU)