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Phylogenomics and species delimitation for effective conservation of manta and devil rays

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  • Jane Hosegood
  • Mark de Bruyne
  • Simon Creer
  • Guy M. W. Stevens
  • Mohammed Abudaya
  • Kim Bassos-Hull
  • Ramon Bonfil
  • Daniel Fernando
  • Andrew D. Foote
  • Helen Hipperson
  • Rima W. Jabado
  • Jennifer Kaden
  • Muhammad Moazzam
  • Lauren R. Peel
  • Stephen Pollett
  • Alessandro Ponzo
  • Marloes Poortvliet
  • Jehad Salah
  • Helen Senn
  • Joshua D. Stewart
  • Sabine Wintner
  • Gary Carvalho

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    Rights statement: This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. © 2020 The Authors. Molecular Ecology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd

    Final published version, 1.17 MB, PDF document

Original languageEnglish
JournalMolecular Ecology
Early online date9 Nov 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 9 Nov 2020


Practical biodiversity conservation relies on delineation of biologically meaningful units. Manta and devil rays (Mobulidae) are threatened worldwide, yet morphological similarities and a succession of recent taxonomic changes impede the development of an effective conservation strategy. Here, we generate genome-wide single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) data from a geographically and taxonomically representative set of manta and devil ray samples to reconstruct phylogenetic relationships and infer evaluate species boundaries under the general lineage concept. We show that nominal species units supported by alternative data sources constitute independently evolving lineages, and find robust evidence for a putative new n undescribed species of manta ray in the Gulf of Mexico. Additionally, we uncover substantial incomplete lineage sorting indicating that rapid speciation together with standing variation in ancestral populations has driven phylogenetic uncertainty within Mobulidae. Finally, we detect cryptic diversity in geographically distinct populations, demonstrating that management below the species level may be warranted in certain species. Overall, our study provides a framework for molecular genetic species delimitation that is relevant to wide-ranging taxa of conservation concern, and highlights the potential for genomic data to support effective management,conservation, and law enforcement strategies.

    Research areas

  • ddRAD, management, mobulids, single nucleotide polymorphism, taxonomy

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