Drift-driven evolution of electric signals in a Neotropical knifefish

Picq, Sophie, Alda, Fernando, Bermingham, Eldredge and Krahe, Rüdiger (2016) Drift-driven evolution of electric signals in a Neotropical knifefish Evolution, 70 (9). pp. 2134-2144. DOI 10.1111/evo.13010.

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Communication signals are highly diverse traits. This diversity is usually assumed to be shaped by selective forces, whereas the null hypothesis of divergence through drift is often not considered. In Panama, the weakly electric fish Brachyhypopomus occidentalis is widely distributed in multiple independent drainage systems, which provide a natural evolutionary laboratory for the study of genetic and signal divergence in separate populations. We quantified geographic variation in the electric signals of 109 fish from five populations, and compared it to the neutral genetic variation estimated from cytochrome oxidase I (COI) sequences of the same individuals, to test whether drift may be driving divergence of their signals. Signal distances were highly correlated with genetic distances, even after controlling for geographic distances, suggesting that drift alone is sufficient to explain geographic variation in electric signals. Significant differences at smaller geographic scales (within drainages) showed, however, that electric signals may evolve at a faster rate than expected under drift, raising the possibility that additional adaptive forces may be contributing to their evolution. Overall, our data point to stochastic forces as main drivers of signal evolution in this species and extend the role of drift in the evolution of communication systems to fish and electrocommunication.

Document Type: Article
Keywords: Animal communication; Brachyhypopomus occidentalis; electric organ discharge; genetic drift; signaling/courtship; weakly electric fish
Research affiliation: OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB3 Marine Ecology > FB3-EV Evolutionary Ecology of Marine Fishes
Refereed: Yes
DOI etc.: 10.1111/evo.13010
ISSN: 0014-3820
Date Deposited: 02 Sep 2016 07:36
Last Modified: 03 May 2017 13:33
URI: http://eprints.uni-kiel.de/id/eprint/33695

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