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Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Research article

Investigating the effects of Pleistocene events on genetic divergence within Richardsonius balteatus, a widely distributed western North American minnow

Derek D Houston14*, Dennis K Shiozawa2, Brian Tilston Smith35 and Brett R Riddle1

Author Affiliations

1 School of Life Sciences, University of Nevada-Las Vegas, Las Vegas, NV 89154-4004, USA

2 Department of Biology, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT 84602, USA

3 Museum of Natural Science, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA 70803, USA

4 Current address: Department of Ecology, Evolution, & Organismal Biology, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011, USA

5 Current address: Department of Ornithology, American Museum of Natural History, Central Park West at 79th Street, New York, NY 10024, USA

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BMC Evolutionary Biology 2014, 14:111  doi:10.1186/1471-2148-14-111

Published: 23 May 2014



Biogeographers seek to understand the influences of global climate shifts and geologic changes to the landscape on the ecology and evolution of organisms. Across both longer and shorter timeframes, the western North American landscape has experienced dynamic transformations related to various geologic processes and climatic oscillations, including events as recently as the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM; ~20 Ka) that have impacted the evolution of the North American biota. Redside shiner is a cyprinid species that is widely distributed throughout western North America. The species’ native range includes several well-documented Pleistocene refugia. Here we use mitochondrial DNA sequence data to assess phylogeography, and to test two biogeographic hypotheses regarding post-glacial colonization by redside shiner: 1) Redside shiner entered the Bonneville Basin at the time of the Bonneville Flood (Late Pleistocene; 14.5 Ka), and 2) redside shiner colonized British Columbia post-glacially from a single refugium in the Upper Columbia River drainage.


Genetic diversification in redside shiner began in the mid to late Pleistocene, but was not associated with LGM. Different clades of redside shiner were distributed in multiple glacial age refugia, and each clade retains a signature of population expansion, with clades having secondary contact in some areas.


Divergence times between redside shiner populations in the Bonneville Basin and the Upper Snake/Columbia River drainage precedes the Bonneville Flood, thus it is unlikely that redside shiner invaded the Bonneville Basin during this flooding event. All but one British Columbia population of redside shiner are associated with the Upper Columbia River drainage with the lone exception being a population near the coast, suggesting that the province as a whole was colonized from multiple refugia, but the inland British Columbia redside shiner populations are affiliated with a refugium in the Upper Columbia River drainage.

Phylogeography; Redside shiner; Pluvial lakes; Glacial cycles; Climate change; Post-glacial colonization