PhD Project Overview
Notothenioid fishes, which dominate the species diversity, abundance, and biomass of the Antarctic continental shelf ichthyofauna, are an iconic example of adaptive radiation in an extreme marine environment. Interestingly, however, one of the most species-rich notothenioid subclades occurs almost entirely outside of Antarctic waters. Patagonotothen comprises ~15 species distributed in marine habitats around southern South America and the Falkland Islands. Only one species, Patagonotothen guntheri, has a distribution that extends south of the Antarctic Polar Front. Given their high species richness and recent evolutionary origin (3-6 Ma), Patagonotothen is considered a rapid evolutionary radiation nested within the larger notothenioid adaptive radiation, but the drivers of diversification in this clade remain unclear. Persistent uncertainty in species boundaries and phylogenetic relationships has prevented development of a robust evolutionary framework in which to investigate patterns of diversification. The broader objective of this project is to describe existing patterns of lineage, morphological, and ecological diversity of Patagonotothen fishes and to understand how this diversity evolved.
Highlights 2020- 2021