The present thesis concerns the population history, evolutionary processes and phylogenetic relationships of lineages of the redfin minnow genus Pseudobarbus. First, the population history and evolutionary processes within P. quathlambae were determined, mainly to decide the conservation value of the Mohale population. The Mohale dam threatens its survival. A divergence in mitochondrial control region and cytochrome b sequences and frequency differences in the distribution of major histocompatibility alleles were found between the Mohale population and an “Eastern” lineage. The Mohale population has therefore been historically isolated and was deemed indispensable for the conservation of P. quathlambae. Differentiation among populations of the P. afer and P. phlegethon complex were investigated, in relation to geological and climatic processes. Sea levels were about – 130 m below present levels during the last glacial maximum, about 18 000 years ago. Five historically isolated lineages were identified through analysis of mitochondrial control region sequences. The four P. afer lineages showed a strong association with proposed palaeoriver systems. A “Forest” lineage, however, reaches across two proposed palaeoriver systems. Surprisingly, this lineage is closely related to P. phlegethon. Pseudobarbus asper and P. tenuis were analysed together, because of their close phylogenetic relationship and because they occur in sympatry in the Gourits River system. Pseudobarbus tenuis showed divergence in mitochondrial control region only between the Keurbooms and Bitou River systems compared to the Gourits River system. Within P. asper, divergence was low, suggesting recent inland exchange opportunities between populations of the Gourits and Gamtoos River systems. River capture of south-eastern tributaries of the Gourits River system by the Keurbooms River would have resulted in unidirectional colonization, suggesting that speciation between P. asper and P. tenuis occurred within the Gourits River system with or without the Gamtoos River system being involved. Lower sea levels during the last glacial maximum also played an important role in the population history of P. burchelli. Differentiation in P. burchelli did not occur between two proposed palaeoriver systems, but rather within a western palaeoriver system. Divergence in mitochondrial control region and cytochrome b sequences showed that the “Breede” and “Tradou” lineages diverged within the Breede River system, before the “Heuningnes” lineage became isolated in the Heuningnes River system. Fifteen historically isolated Pseudobarbus lineages were included in a phylogenetic analysis on which biogeographic hypotheses were based. Phylogenetic relationships based on mitochondrial control region, cytochrome b and 16S and a combined dataset of all these were compared to relationships recovered from a previous morphological dataset. Conflicts between the molecular and morphological analyses, suggests that several morphological characters evolved in a complex manner. The molecular phylogenies suggest that the earliest divergence in the Pseudobarbus was between P. quathlambae in the Orange River system and the other species that occur in the Cape Foristic Region. Pseudobarbus lineages with two pairs of barbels and those with a single pair of barbels (excluding P. quathlambae) grouped together. In terms of currently described species, only the two lineages of P. quathlambae and the three lineages of P. burchelli were clearly monophyletic. Copyright
Thesis (PhD (Genetics))--University of Pretoria, 2007.