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Content archived on 2024-05-29

Evolution of diversity in snakehead fishes (Teleostei, Channoidei)


Snakeheads (Perciformes, Channoidei) are airbreathing primary freshwater fishes, mostly predators, native to Asia and Africa. They are important for aquaculture, but have the potential to become seriously damaging invasive species in non-native waters. Snakeheads are very interesting from an evolutionary standpoint.

Their wide variation in morphological, ecological, and behavioural traits makes them an excellent model system to study the evolutionary dynamics of biological diversification. Their distribution pattern is also particularly well suited to address long debated issues about the biogeographic history of Southeast Asia and the faunal connection between Africa and Asia.

This project proposes to study the evolutionary diversification of snakeheads. A sound phylogenetic framework is essential to test predictions from evolutionary hypotheses. The taxonomy of snakeheads is difficult and their phylogenetic history unknown. The first step is to develop a new integral phylogeny based on both molecular and morphological data.

With this new phylogenetic framework, the two main objectives of the project are:
- to analyse the evolution of morphological, ecological, and behavioural traits in snakeheads, and
- to test hypotheses on the biogeographic history and distribution of phylogenetic diversity in Southeast Asian freshwater fishes.

The latter information is crucial for biodiversity conservation in this area, a matter of extreme concern recently raised by scientists. This project employs a variety of state-of-the art morphological and molecular techniques. A comprehensive training programme has been devised to best fit the applicant's individual needs.

This advanced training will greatly broaden his analytical skills and will expose him to a very stimulating scientific environment, strengthening his scientific career. It will enable the highly promising applicant to pursue innovative and competitive research in a EU-based centre of excellence.

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