Monophyly of Heterandriini (Teleostei: Poeciliidae) revisited: a critical review of the data

Alfy Morales-Cazan James S. Albert About the authors

The systematics and taxonomy of poeciliid fishes (guppies and allies) remain poorly understood despite the relative importance of these species as model systems in the biological sciences. This study focuses on testing the monophyly of the nominal poeciliine tribe Heterandriini and the genus Heterandria, through examination of the morphological characters on which the current classification is based. These characters include aspects of body shape (morphometrics), scale and fin-ray counts (meristics), pigmentation, the cephalic laterosensory system, and osteological features of the neurocranium, oral jaws and suspensorium, branchial basket, pectoral girdle, and the gonopodium and its supports. A Maximum Parsimony analysis was conducted of 150 characters coded for 56 poeciliid and outgroup species, including 22 of 45 heterandriin species (from the accounted in Parenti & Rauchenberger, 1989), or seven of nine heterandriin species (from the accounted in Lucinda & Reis, 2005). Multistate characters were analyzed as both unordered and ordered, and iterative a posteriori weighting was used to improve tree resolution. Tree topologies obtained from these analyses support the monophyly of the Middle American species of "Heterandria," which based on available phylogenetic information, are herein reassigned to the genus Pseudoxiphophorus. None of the characters used in previous studies to characterize the nominal taxon Heterandriini are found to be unambiguously diagnostic. Some of these characters are shared with species in other poeciliid tribes, and others are reversed within the Heterandriini. These results support the hypothesis that Pseudoxiphophorus is monophyletic, and that this clade is not the closest relative of H. formosa (the type species) from southeastern North America. Available morphological data are not sufficient to assess the phylogenetic relationships of H. formosa with respect to other members of the Heterandriini. The results further suggest that most tribe-level taxa of the Poeciliinae are not monophyletic, and that further work remains to resolve the evolutionary relationships of this group.

Fish diversity; Heterandria; Ichthyology; Osteology; Pseudoxiphophorus; Systematics

Sociedade Brasileira de Ictiologia Universidade Estadual de Maringá, Núcleo de Pesquisas em Limnologia, Ictiologia e Aquicultura/Coleção Ictiologia, Av. Colombo, 5790, 87020-900 Maringá, PR, Brasil, Tel.: (55 44)3011 4632 - Maringá - PR - Brazil