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A molecular phylogenetic analysis recovers a pattern consistent with a drift vicariance scenario for the origin of Greater Antillean cichlids. This phylogeny, based on mitochondrial and nuclear genes, reveals that clades on different geographic regions diverged concurrently with the geological separation of these areas. Middle America was initially colonized by South American cichlids in the Cretaceous, most probably through the Cretaceous Island Arc. The separation of Greater Antillean cichlids and their mainland Middle American relatives was caused by a drift vicariance event that took place when the islands became separated from Yucatan in the Eocene. Greater Antillean cichlids are monophyletic and do not have close South American relatives. Therefore, the alternative hypothesis that these cichlids migrated via an Oligocene landbridge from South America is falsified. A marine dispersal hypothesis is not employed because the drift vicariance hypothesis is better able to explain the biogeographic patterns, both temporal and phylogenetic. © 2006 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution

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