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Endemism of Freshwater Fish Fauna in the Geothermal Regions: a Review of the Molecular and Biogeographic Studies. P. 29–50

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Section: Biology




Bolotov Ivan Nikolaevich
Institute of Ecological Problems of the North, Ural Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences
Naberezhnaya Severnoy Dviny, 23, Arkhangelsk, 163000, Russian Federation;
Aksenova Ol’ga Vladimirovna
Institute of Ecological Problems of the North, Ural Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences
Naberezhnaya Severnoy Dviny, 23, Arkhangelsk, 163000, Russian Federation;
Bespalaya Yuliya Vladimirovna
Institute of Ecological Problems of the North, Ural Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences
Naberezhnaya Severnoy Dviny, 23, Arkhangelsk, 163000, Russian Federation;
Spitsyn Vitaliy Mikhaylovich
Institute of Ecological Problems of the North, Ural Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences
Naberezhnaya Severnoy Dviny, 23, Arkhangelsk, 163000, Russian Federation;


The geothermal regions differ by the underrun of thermally enriched waters and gases from the earth interior to the surface, which has a warming effect on the ecosystems. An unusual fauna formed in the hot springs, warm streams, warmed lakes and swamps has been of a special interest of the zoologists and biogeographers for a long time. Many of the thermal hydrobiont populations were described as local endemic taxa of the species or subspecies rank on the basis of morphological characters. However, their status is the matter of long debate. The results of the molecular studies of various freshwater fish species, which have been described from the thermal habitats, are summarized in the review. Some of them actually belong to the intraspecific forms of prevailing species. These forms have distinct morphological differences from the zonal populations but are genetically identical or analogous. Some other species really belong to the divergent phylogenetic lineages, which can be considered as local thermophilic endemics. The largest number of endemic species inhabits the South of the United States and Mexico. The high-level fish fauna endemism in thermal systems of these regions can be due to their ancient origin as well as the similarity of the environmental conditions of zonal desert water bodies with thermal systems. Various species of cyprinodont fishes inhabit the geothermal water bodies of Eurasia, North and Central America. The populations of Salmoniformes and Gasterosteiformes are also found in some geothermal systems of the Far North of Eurasia. Characiformes, Siluriformes and Perciformes actively populate subtropical thermal springs in South America. The hydrothermal systems can be considered as a kind of “evolutionary traps” for freshwater fishes, which cannot return to the non-geothermal habitats, as the evolution in thermal systems develops in the direction of specialization, adaptation to a unique and very local set of environmental conditions.


phylogeography, molecular phylogeny, hot springs, cyprinodont fishes, Cyprinodontiformes, endemic species, speciation
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