Colour pattern divergence in reef fish species is rapid and driven by both range overlap and symmetry

Hemingson, Christopher R., Cowman, Peter F., Hodge, Jennifer R., and Bellwood, David R. (2019) Colour pattern divergence in reef fish species is rapid and driven by both range overlap and symmetry. Ecology Letters, 22 (1). pp. 190-199.

[img] PDF (Published Version) - Published Version
Restricted to Repository staff only

View at Publisher Website:


Signal divergence is an important process underpinning the diversification of lineages. Research has shown that signal divergence is greatest in species pairs that possess high geographic range overlap. However, the influence of range-size differences within pairs is less understood. We investigated how these factors have shaped signal divergence within brightly coloured coral reef butterflyfishes (genus: Chaetodon). Using a novel digital imaging methodology, we quantified both colouration and pattern using 250 000 sample points on each fish image. Surprisingly, evolutionary age did not affect colour pattern dissimilarity between species pairs, with average differences arising in just 300 000 years. However, the effect of range overlap and range symmetry was significant. Species-pair colour patterns become more different with increasing overlap, but only when ranges are similar in size. When ranges differ markedly in area, species-pair colour patterns become more similar with increasing overlap. This suggests that species with small ranges may maintain non-colour-based species boundaries.

Item ID: 56824
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1461-0248
Keywords: age, colours, divergence, overlap, patterns, reef fishes, signals, symmetry
Related URLs:
Copyright Information: © 2018 John Wiley & Sons Ltd/CNRS.
Additional Information:

A version of this publication was included as Chapter 4 of the following PhD thesis: Hemingson, Christopher (2021) The colours of coral reef fishes. PhD thesis, James Cook University, which is available Open Access in ResearchOnline@JCU. Please see the Related URLs for access.

Research Data:
Date Deposited: 09 Jan 2019 07:46
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310305 Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 100%
More Statistics

Actions (Repository Staff Only)

Item Control Page Item Control Page