Is the Medium the Message? Functional Diversity Across Abiotic Gradients in Freshwater Electric Fishes

Kassandra L. Ford, James S. Albert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Evolutionary transitions across abiotic gradients can occur among habitats at multiple spatial scales, and among taxa and biotas through a range of ecological and evolutionary time frames. Two diverse groups of electric fishes, Neotropical Gymnotiformes, and Afrotropical Mormyroidea, offer interesting examples of potentially convergent evolution in aspects of morphological, physiological, and life history traits. We examined biogeographical, morphological, and functional patterns across these two groups to assess the degree of convergence in association with abiotic environmental variables. While there are superficial similarities across the groups and continents, we found substantially more differences in terms of habitat occupancy, electric signal diversity, and morphological disparity. These differences likely correlate to differences in biogeographical histories across the Neotropics and Afrotropics, biotic factors associated with aquatic life and electric signals, and sampling issues plaguing both groups. Additional research and sampling are required to make further inferences about how electric fishes transition throughout diverse freshwater habitats across both microevolutionary and macroevolutionary scales.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)945-957
Number of pages13
JournalIntegrative and comparative biology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2022
Externally publishedYes

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