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Phylogenetic relationships in Characidae (Ostariophysi:Characiforms)


The fauna of freshwater neotropical fish is the richest and most diversified on the planet, containing 71 families, several hundred genuses and, approximately, 6,000 species, 4,475 of which are effectively described. It is an ictiofauna dominated, both in terms of taxonomic diversity and in biomass, by fish of the Ostariophysi superorder, Otophysi series, which cover approximately 73 per cent of the species described, divided primarily between the Siluriforms orders (15 families and approximately 37 per cent of the species) and Characiforms (14 families and approximately 33 per cent of the species). The Characidae family, with 12 subfamilies, 167 genuses and 980 recognized species, is the largest of the Characiforms order, containing 65 per cent of the 1,460 valid species of the order and approximately 21 per cent of the species of fish described in neotropical ictiofauna. The Characidae are known popularly in Brazil dourados, lambaris, piabas, peixes-cachorro, sardinhas, matrinchãs, piraputangas, pacus, tambaquis, piranhas, among others; and their size ranges from small (up to 15 cm in length) up to medium to large (20 to 100 cm in length). Despite their great diversity and their enormous ecological importance and also considerable commercial importance, the group finds itself in a great state of confusion as regards the phylogenetic inter-relationships of its component taxons and, consequently of its phylogenetic/taxonomic limits. In addition, approximately 86 per cent of the valid species of Characidae are of small size, with less than 15 cm in length when adults; of these, approximately 96 per cent, symptomatically, are grouped as incertae sedis genuses in Characidae; given that the vast majority live in small bodies of water such as streams and headwaters. These are environments which, due to their relatively high levels of richness, endemicity, and also due to the fragility of their ictiofauna in the face of deleterious actions of man, should be the priority object of inventories and also of measures aimed at their preservation and sustainable use. Unfortunately, as a result of the extremely confused and often simply almost completely unknown phylogenetic relationships of the array of taxons that today is recognized as the Characidae family, the advance in the knowledge of the taxonomy of neotropical ictiofauna as a whole is seriously prejudiced. Such knowledge is especially precarious in relation to those ictiofauna which inhabit small and relatively fragile bodies of water such as streams - with profoundly negative reflexes on any efforts aimed at the study of their evolution, ecology, conservation, management and sustainable use, since it is the role of the taxonomy to produce and maintain the most fundamental general systems of organization of the biological diversity (the formal systems of classification), without which all the other areas of scientific biological study cannot progress correctly and efficiently. However, the main objective of this Thematic Project is the analysis of the phylogenetic relationships of Characidae (sensu Reis et al., 2003, in the work "Check List of the Freshwater Fishes of South and Central America", EDIPUCRS, Porto Alegre, 729 pp.) by means, principally, of the application of the cladistic methodology in the analysis of skeletal anatomic characters of representative exemplars prepared for this (made diaphanous) of all their subfamilies and of practically all (approximately 84 per cent) of their genuses recognized as valid (as well as the Characiforms Acestrorhynchidae, Cynodontidae and Gasteropelecidae families which have been considered Characidae by different authors), reaching a total of at least 145 terminals in our internal group. In parallel an analysis will be carried out, of the same taxonomic groups, based on genetic/molecular characters (sequences of mitochondrial and nuclear DNA: mitochondrial genes 12S rRNA and Citocromo Oxidase I and the nuclear genes RAG2, ZENK and of cardiac a-actine), in a more restricted sample universe, since there still do not exist collections of preserved tissue for the extraction of genetic material comparable to those existing for taxonomic/phylogenetic purposes with morphological bases. Both analyses should, when completed, make it possible to: 1) establish a hypothesis - based on a sample universe of scope never before used - of the relationship between practically all (approximately 84 per cent) of the 167 recognized genuses of Characidae, specially the 88 (all included in our analysis) considered incertae sedis in the family; 2) test the monophyletism of all the subfamilies recognized as Characidae (Agoniatinae, Aphyocharacinae, Bryconinae, Characinae, Cheirodontinae, Clupeacharacinae, Glandulocaudinae, Iguanodectinae, Rhoadsiinae, Serrasalminae, Stethaprioninae and Tetragonopterinae), especially those that have still not been the object of recent rigorous phylogenetic analysis (Agoniatinae, Aphyocharacinae, Characinae, Clupeacharacinae, Rhoadsiinae e Tetragonopterinae); 3) test the position and phylogenetic limits of Acestrorhynchidae, Cynodontidae and, especially, Gasteropelecidae, a group generally considered as incertae sedis in Characiforms; 4) formulate, on the basis of the number of terminals analyzed, a more robust hypothesis than any other already offered concerning the limits of the Characidae family; 5) as the result of the production of a first robust hypothesis of the phylogenetic relationships in Characidae, create conditions for the state of relative paralysis in the study of phylogenetic and taxonomic relationships of the genuses presently included as incertae sedis in Characidae by Reis et al. (2003) be broken. (AU)

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Scientific publications (23)
(References retrieved automatically from Web of Science and SciELO through information on FAPESP grants and their corresponding numbers as mentioned in the publications by the authors)
BENINE, RICARDO C.; MELO, BRUNO F.; CASTRO, RICARDO M. C.; OLIVEIRA, CLAUDIO. Taxonomic revision and molecular phylogeny of Gymnocorymbus Eigenmann, 1908 (Teleostei, Characiformes, Characidae). Zootaxa, v. 3956, n. 1, p. 1-28, . (04/09219-6, 11/08374-1, 11/50282-7)
MELO, BRUNO F.; BENINE, RICARDO C.; SILVA, GABRIEL S. C.; AVELINO, GLEISY S.; OLIVEIRA, CLAUDIO. Molecular phylogeny of the Neotropical fish genus Tetragonopterus (Teleostei: Characiformes: Characidae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, v. 94, n. B, p. 709-717, . (12/01622-2, 11/50282-7, 10/17009-2, 11/08374-1, 04/09219-6)
DAGOSTA, FERNANDO C. P.; DATOVO, ALESSIO. Monophyly of the Agoniatinae (Characiformes: Characidae). Zootaxa, v. 3646, n. 3, p. 265-276, . (09/54931-0, 11/23419-1, 04/09219-6, 10/18984-9)
VARI‚ R.P.; CASTRO‚ R.M.C.; ARMBRUSTER‚ JW. New species of Astyanax (Ostariophysi: Characiformes: Characidae) from the Upper Rio Paraná System‚ Brazil. Copeia, v. 2007, n. 1, p. 150-162, . (04/09219-6, 98/05072-8)
TAGLIACOLLO, VICTOR A.; SOUZA-LIMA, ROSANA; BENINE, RICARDO C.; OLIVEIRA, CLAUDIO. Molecular phylogeny of Aphyocharacinae (Characiformes, Characidae) with morphological diagnoses for the subfamily and recognized genera. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, v. 64, n. 2, p. 297-307, . (04/09219-6)
MELO, BRUNO F.; BENINE, RICARDO C.; MARIGUELA, TATIANE C.; OLIVEIRA, CLAUDIO. A new species of Tetragonopterus Cuvier, 1816 (Characiformes: Characidae: Tetragonopterinae) from the rio Jari, Amapá, northern Brazil. Neotropical Ichthyology, v. 9, n. 1, p. 49-56, . (04/09219-6)
OLIVEIRA, CLAUDIO; AVELINO, GLEISY S.; ABE, KELLY T.; MARIGUELA, TATIANE C.; BENINE, RICARDO C.; ORTI, GUILLERMO; VARI, RICHARD P.; CORREA E CASTRO, RICARDO M.. Phylogenetic relationships within the speciose family Characidae (Teleostei: Ostariophysi: Characiformes) based on multilocus analysis and extensive ingroup sampling. BMC Evolutionary Biology, v. 11, . (06/06749-0, 06/04551-8, 04/09219-6, 06/05744-4)
MACHADO-EVANGELISTA, MARIANA; HENRIQUES ESGUICERO, ANDRE LUIZ; ARCIFA, MARLENE SOFIA; ALVES PEREIRA, THIAGO NILTON. Dieta e ecomorfologia de Leporinus reticulatus (Characiformes: Anostomidae) do alto Rio Juruena, MT, Brasil: alterações ontogenéticas relacionadas à ecologia alimentar. Acta Amazonica, v. 45, n. 4, p. 383-391, . (04/09219-6, 09/54931-0)
ABE, KELLY T.; MARIGUELA, TATIANE C.; AVELINO, GLEISY S.; CASTRO, RICARDO M. C.; OLIVEIRA, CLAUDIO. Multilocus molecular phylogeny of Gasteropelecidae (Ostariophysi: Characiformes) reveals the existence of an unsuspected diversity. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, v. 69, n. 3, p. 1209-1214, . (04/09219-6, 10/17999-2)
SILVA, GABRIEL S. C.; MELO, BRUNO F.; OLIVEIRA, CLAUDIO; BENINE, RICARDO C.. Revision of the South American genus Tetragonopterus Cuvier, 1816 (Teleostei: Characidae) with description of four new species. Zootaxa, v. 4200, n. 1, p. 1-46, . (12/01622-2, 14/26508-3, 11/50282-7, 10/17009-2, 11/08374-1, 04/09219-6)
THIAGO N. A. PEREIRA; RICARDO M. C. CASTRO. A new species of Utiaritichthys Miranda Ribeiro (Characiformes: Serrasalmidae) from the Serra dos Parecis, Tapajós drainage. Neotropical Ichthyology, v. 12, n. 2, p. 397-402, . (11/50282-7, 04/09219-6)
VARI, RICHARD P.; CASTRO, RICARDO M. C.. New species of Astyanax (Ostariophysi: Characiforms: Characidae) from the Upper Rio Paraná System, Brazil.. Copeia, v. 1, p. 150-162, . (04/09219-6, 98/05072-8)
BENINE, RICARDO C.; MARIGUELA, TATIANE C.; OLIVEIRA, CLAUDIO. New species of Moenkhausia Eigenmann, 1903 (Characiformes: Characidae) with comments on the Moenkhausia oligolepis species complex. Neotropical Ichthyology, v. 7, n. 2, p. 161-168, . (04/09219-6, 06/04551-8)

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