Geopolitical species revisited: Genomic and morphological data indicate that the roundtail chub Gila robusta species complex (Teleostei, Cyprinidae) is a single species

Joshua M. Copus, Linn W Montgomery, Zac H. Forsman, Brian W. Bowen, Robert J. Toonen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Scopus citations


The Gila robusta species complex in the Lower Colorado River Basin has a complicated taxonomic history. Recent authors have separated this group into three nominal taxa, G. robusta, G. intermedia, and G. nigra, however aside from location, no reliable method of distinguishing individuals of these species currently exists. To assess relationships within this group, we examined morphology of type specimens and fresh material, and used RADseq methods to assess phylogenetic relationship among these nominal species. Maximum likelihood and Bayesian inference tree building methods reveal high concordance between tree topologies based on the mitochondrial and nuclear datasets. Coalescent SNAPP analysis resolved a similar tree topology. Neither morphological nor molecular data reveal diagnostic differences between these species as currently defined. As such, G. intermedia and G. nigra should be considered synonyms of the senior G. robusta. We hypothesize that climate driven wet and dry cycles have led to periodic isolation of population subunits and subsequent local divergence followed by reestablished connectivity and mixing. Management plans should therefore focus on retaining genetic variability and viability of geographic populations to preserve adaptability to changing climate conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere5605
Issue number9
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018



  • Conservation genetics
  • Endangered species
  • Freshwater fishes
  • Genomics
  • Lower Colorado River Basin
  • Morphometrics
  • Polytypic species
  • Systematics
  • Taxonomy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

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