Explaining the ocean's richest biodiversity hotspot and global patterns of fish diversity

Elizabeth Christina Miller, Kenji T. Hayashi, Dongyuan Song, John J. Wiens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


For most marine organisms, species richness peaks in the Central Indo-Pacific region and declines longitudinally, a striking pattern that remains poorly understood. Here, we used phylogenetic approaches to address the causes of richness patterns among global marine regions, comparing the relative importance of colonization time, number of colonization events, and diversification rates (speciation minus extinction). We estimated regional richness using distributional data for almost all percomorph fishes (17 435 species total, including approximately 72% of all marine fishes and approximately 33% of all freshwater fishes). The high diversity of the Central Indo-Pacific was explained by its colonization by many lineages 5.3-34 million years ago. These relatively old colonizations allowed more time for richness to build up through in situ diversification compared to other warm-marine regions. Surprisingly, diversification rates were decoupled from marine richness patterns, with clades in low-richness cold-marine habitats having the highest rates. Unlike marine richness, freshwater diversity was largely derived from a few ancient colonizations, coupled with high diversification rates. Our results are congruent with the geological history of the marine tropics, and thus may apply to many other organisms. Beyond marine biogeography, we add to the growing number of cases where colonization and time-for-speciation explain large-scale richness patterns instead of diversification rates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number20181314
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1888
StatePublished - Oct 10 2018


  • Diversification
  • Fish
  • Freshwater
  • Historical biogeography
  • Marine biodiversity
  • Time-for-speciation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

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