Island- and lake-like parallel adaptive radiations replicated in rivers

Edward D. Burress, Lubomír Piálek, Jorge R. Casciotta, Adriana Almirón, Milton Tan, Jonathan W. Armbruster, Oldrǐch Říčan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Parallel adaptive radiations have arisen following the colonization of islands by lizards and lakes by fishes. In these classic examples, parallel adaptive radiation is a response to the ecological opportunities afforded by the colonization of novel ecosystems and similar adaptive landscapes that favour the evolution of similar suites of ecomorphs, despite independent evolutionary histories. Here, we demonstrate that parallel adaptive radiations of cichlid fishes arose in South American rivers. Speciation-assembled communities of pike cichlids (Crenicichla) have independently diversified into similar suites of novel ecomorphs in the Uruguay and Parana´ Rivers, including crevice feeders, periphyton grazers and molluscivores. There were bursts in phenotypic evolution associated with the colonization of each river and the subsequent expansion of morphospace following the evolution of the ecomorphs. These riverine clades demonstrate that characteristics emblematic of textbook parallel adaptive radiations of island- and lake-dwelling assemblages are feasible evolutionary outcomes even in labile ecosystems such as rivers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number20171762
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1870
StatePublished - Jan 10 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Cichlid
  • Convergence
  • Crenicichla
  • Diversification
  • Parallel evolution
  • Species flock

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • General Environmental Science
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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