Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 102, Issue 12, pp 1461–1472 | Cite as

Phylogeography of the Mayan cichlid Mayaheros urophthalmus (Teleostei: Cichlidae) in the Yucatan peninsula based on mitochondrial markers CYTB and COI

  • J. Barrientos-VillalobosEmail author
  • J. J. Schmitter-Soto


The Yucatan Peninsula (YP) suffered several marine transgressions and regressions during the Quaternary, thus molding the distribution of its present biota, especially its freshwater fish fauna. The Mayan cichlid (Mayaheros urophthalmus Günther) is a euryhaline fish native to the Atlantic slope of Mexico and northern Central America, including the YP; it is one of the most widespread freshwater species in the region. Herein we discuss a phylogeographic scenario by which the Mayan cichlid may have reached its current distribution in the YP. A Bayesian analysis and minimum spanning network were inferred from two partial mitochondrial genes, Cytochrome b (CYTB) and Cytochrome c Oxidase I (COI). The two fragments showed genetic differentiation among populations (Fst = 0.31, p value <0.001). Tajima’s D and Fu ´s F revealed a tendency to the expansion of some populations. A consistent ordination of north vs south populations was observed. A spatial analysis of molecular variance (SAMOVA) was performed to recognize putative barriers among populations of M. urophthalmus. A secondary molecular calibration located the window time in which the dispersal event may have occurred during the Pleistocene, around 1 Mya. We determined that a Quaternary dispersal around the old coastlines from the south explains the current distribution of the Mayan cichlid.


Colonization of freshwaters Dispersal Genetic diversity Pleistocene 



Eddie Guillén and Rubén Méndez helped in the field. JBV thanks the Mexican Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología for a postdoctoral grant (290847).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Statement on the welfare of animals

This work did not include experiments, but fish were collected and preserved at the collection in ECOSUR. This was done under the proper permits from Mexican environmental authorities (No. PPF/DGOPA-053/15), and all applicable international, national, and institutional guidelines for the use of animals in research were followed. Such ethical standards include a humane euthanization of the fish (using ice) and the capture of just enough specimens to conduct the study.

The work did not include studies with human participants performed by any of the authors.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.El Colegio de la Frontera SurChetumalMexico

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