Ancient connections among the European rivers revealed from the evolutionary history of Telestes
In order to better understand the complex geologic history of the Mediterranean area, we have analysed evolutionary history, phylogeographic structure and molecular diversity of freshwater fishes belonging to the genus Telestes. As primary freshwater fishes distributed largely in the Mediterranean basin, this genus represents a suitable model system for investigating the historical biogeography of freshwater drainage systems in southern Europe. In this investigation we have included samples representing all Telestes species and based our analyses on one mitochondrial and one nuclear gene. We have investigated phylogenetic structure inside the genus Telestes, estimated divergence times, reconstructed ancestral distribution ranges and described intraspecific molecular diversity. Diversification of Telestes started in the Early Miocene, when the ancestors of T. souffia, lineage comprising T. croaticus and T. fontinalis, and the one comprising T. pleurobipunctatus and T. beoticus got isolated. The remaining species are genetically more closely related and form a common cluster in the recovered phylogenetic trees. Complex geological history of southern Europe, including formation of continental bridges, fragmentation of landmass, closing of the sea corridor, local tectonic activities, led to complicated biogeographical pattern of this genus, caused by multiple colonization events and passovers between ancient rivers and water basins. Especially pronounced diversity of Telestes found in the Adriatic watershed in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina is a consequence of a triple colonization of this area by different lineages, which led to an existence of genetically distinct species in neighboring areas. Significant intraspecific structuring is present in T. souffia, T. muticellus, T. croaticus and T. pleurobipunctatus. Besides in well-structured species, elevated levels of genetic polymorphism were found inside T. turskyi and T. ukliva, as a consequence of their old origin and unconstrained evolutionary history.