Phylogenetics support an ancient common origin of two scientific icons: Devils Hole and Devils Hole pupfish

Saglam I. K., Baumsteiger J., Smith M. J., Linares-Casenave J., Nichols A. L., Rourke S. M. O., ...More

MOLECULAR ECOLOGY, vol.25, no.16, pp.3962-3973, 2016 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 25 Issue: 16
  • Publication Date: 2016
  • Doi Number: 10.1111/mec.13732
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.3962-3973
  • Hacettepe University Affiliated: No


The Devils Hole pupfish (Cyprinorion diabolis; DHP) is an icon of conservation biology. Isolated in a 50 m(2) pool (Devils Hole), DHP is one of the rarest vertebrate species known and an evolutionary anomaly, having survived in complete isolation for thousands of years. However, recent findings suggest DHP might be younger than commonly thought, potentially introduced to Devils Hole by humans in the past thousand years. As a result, the significance of DHP from an evolutionary and conservation perspective has been questioned. Here we present a high-resolution genomic analysis of DHP and two closely related species, with the goal of thoroughly examining the temporal divergence of DHP. To this end, we inferred the evolutionary history of DHP from multiple random genomic subsets and evaluated four historical scenarios using the multispecies coalescent. Our results provide substantial information regarding the evolutionary history of DHP. Genomic patterns of secondary contact present strong evidence that DHP were isolated in Devils Hole prior to 20-10 ka and the model best supported by geological history and known mutation rates predicts DHP diverged around 60 ka, approximately the same time Devils Hole opened to the surface. We make the novel prediction that DHP colonized and have survived in Devils Hole since the cavern opened, and the two events (colonization and collapse of the cavern's roof) were caused by a common geologic event. Our results emphasize the power of evolutionary theory as a predictive framework and reaffirm DHP as an important evolutionary novelty, worthy of continued conservation and exploration.