, Volume 832, Issue 1, pp 331–354 | Cite as

Species diversity in Gymnogeophagus (Teleostei: Cichlidae) and comparative biogeography of cichlids in the Middle Paraná basin, an emerging hotspot of fish endemism

  • Oldřich ŘíčanEmail author
  • Štěpánka Říčanová
  • Klára Dragová
  • Lubomír Piálek
  • Adriana Almirón
  • Jorge Casciotta


We address the diversity of two species groups of the cichlid genus Gymnogeophagus in the Middle Paraná basin using molecular phylogeography and traditional morphological characters and conclude that they are composed of a higher diversity of endemic species than previously thought. The nominal Gymnogeophagus setequedas is found non-monophyletic with each phylogeographic lineage endemic to a single tributary of the Middle Paraná (Rio Acaray, Rio Monday, the Itaipu area). Prime candidates for the origin of the species in the G. setequedas group are waterfalls that separate most of the tributaries from the Middle Paraná River. The postulated waterfall- and rapids-driven fragmentation of Gymnogeophagus in the studied area falls into a narrow time window coinciding with the Pleistocene epoch. We further demonstrate that the endemism in Gymnogeophagus shows a high degree of biogeographical congruence with other sympatric cichlid genera. The Middle Paraná basin has up to 27 globaly endemic species of cichlid fishes in three genera and 21 of these species are endemics of single tributaries of the Middle Paraná. As a final consideration we address threats to the long term survival of the still poorly known but clearly highly endemic and endangered fish fauna of the Middle Paraná basin.


Freshwater fishes Endemism Putative new species Phylogeography Molecular-clock dating Conservation 



We thank Soledad Gouric for the pictures of the LPJ and the authorities of Ministerio de Ecología y Recursos Naturales Renovables de la Provincia de Misiones for the awarded fishing permits. Financial support was provided by the Czech Science Foundation (GAČR) (Grant Number 14-26060P) to ŠŘ and by Comisión de Investigaciones Científicas de la provincia de Buenos Aires (CIC), Facultad de Ciencias Naturales y Museo (UNLP) and Administración de Parques Nacionales.

Supplementary material

10750_2018_3691_MOESM1_ESM.doc (2.4 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 2495 kb). Fig. S1. Map of the Paraná basin featuring the Middle Paraná section and parts of the Upper and Lower sections. White bars show boundaries of the Middle Paraná section. Note the floodplain nature of both the Lower and Upper Paraná as opposed to the canyon-type nature of the Middle Paraná. Note that the nature of the Itaipú area drainage is of a similar nature as the rest of the Middle Paraná but that the canyon of the Middle Paraná in the Itaipú area is flooded by the Itaipú reservoir. The arrow shows the Itaipú dam. The Itaipú area is now part of the Upper Paraná basin because the Itaipú reservoir flooded the Setequedas falls (upper bar) that used to separate the Middle and Upper Paraná sections. The different geomorphological nature of the Middle Paraná explains its high endemism compared to the faunas of both the Lower and Upper Paraná. Fig. S2. Phylogenetic relationships within Gymnogeophagus based on the cytb marker from BEAST analysis (as in Fig. 2) showing support values instead of dating. Fig. S3. Phylogenetic relationships within Gymnogeophagus showing species delimitation results based on the GMYC analysis (red branches are based on this analysis intraspecific, black branches are interspecific). The upper inset figure shows the single treshold line and the lower inset figure the single treshold peak. Because of this the multiple threshold analysis (not shown) provided identical results to the single treshold analysis. The focal species groups are colored as in Fig. 2. The tree is the same ultrametric tree from BEAST analysis as in Fig. 2 and Fig. S2


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Zoology, Faculty of ScienceUniversity of South BohemiaCeské BudějoviceCzech Republic
  2. 2.División Zoología Vertebrados, Facultad de Ciencias Naturales y MuseoUNLPLa PlataArgentina
  3. 3.CIC, Comisión de Investigaciones Científicas de la Provincia de Buenos AiresLa PlataArgentina

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