Angels in disguise: sympatric hybridization in the marine angelfishes is widespread and occurs between deeply divergent lineages
Proceedings. Biological Sciences
The Royal Society
Centre for Marine Ecosystems Research
Hybridization events are not uncommon in marine environments where physical barriers are attenuated. Studies of coral reef taxa have suggested that hybridization predominantly occurs between parapatric species distributed along biogeographic suture zones. By contrast, little is known about the extent of sympatric hybridization on coral reefs, despite the large amount of biogeographic overlap shared by many coral reef species. Here, we investigate if the propensity for hybridization along suture zones represents a general phenomenon among coral reef fishes, by focusing on the marine angelfishes (family Pomacanthidae). Although hybridization has been reported for this family, it has not been thoroughly surveyed, with more recent hybridization studies focusing instead on closely related species from a population genetics perspective. We provide a comprehensive survey of hybridization among the Pomacanthidae, characterize the upper limits of genetic divergences between hybridizing species and investigate the occurrence of sympatric hybridization within this group. We report the occurrence of hybridization involving 42 species (48% of the family) from all but one genus of the Pomacanthidae. Our results indicate that the marine angelfishes are among the groups of coral reef fishes with the highest incidences of hybridization, not only between sympatric species, but also between deeply divergent lineages.