March 12 2014
12:00 LSB 2320
Macroevolution & Macroecology Group, Research School of Biology, Australian National University
An Origin Story: Evolution and Biogeography of Coral Reef Fishes
Fishes and reef habitats share a 500 million year history. However, it is only in the last 60 million years where we begin to see both the fossil and molecular origins of what we call a "coral reef fish". Today, coral reefs host 1/3 of all marine fish species in just 0.01% of the oceans surface. While much research has examined processes of maintenance of this biodiversity, it is only in the last decade that the data and the analytical tools have become available to examine the evolutionary origins of reef fishes. Here, I explore the trophic evolution of fishes on reefs; the role reefs have played in fish diversification; and how biogeography and biodiversity hotspots have shaped the current global patterns of reef fish diversity. The expansion of coral reefs in the Miocene is associated with the appearance of specialized feeding modes in associated lineages, while providing a habitat for high speciation and a potential refuge from extinction. Current patterns of biodiversity, including the species gradient across the Indo-Pacific, appear to be related to shifting centres of diversity, periods of elevated extinction, and barriers to dispersal.