The Bonneville Basin and upper Snake River drainage of western North America underwent extensive hydrological changes during the late Pleistocene, potentially influencing the geographic distribution and evolutionary trajectories of aquatic species that occupied this region. To test this hypothesis, I reconstructed the phylogeographic history of the desert fish Utah chub (Gila atraria) by examining 16 populations that span the natural distribution of this species across the Bonneville Basin and upper Snake River. I compared mitochondrial control region sequences (934 bp) among 77 individuals revealing 24 unique haplotypes. Geographic and phylogenetic relationships among haplotypes were explored using parsimony, maximum likelihood, nested clade analysis, and analysis of molecular variance. I found that G. atraria is composed of two distinct clades that represent an early Pleistocene split between the upper Snake River and Bonneville Basin. Within each of these clades, geographic structuring was highly concordant with the hydrological history of late Pleistocene Lake Bonneville and the upper Snake River, suggesting that glacial-induced shifts in climate and unpredictable geological events have played a major role in shaping genetic subdivision among populations. To examine the effects of vicariant events on phenotypic divergence among Utah chub populations, I mapped chub life histories to the control region haplotype network. I found a nonrandom association between haplotypes and life-history phenotypes. These results suggest that historical events responsible for population fragmentation may have also contributed to phenotypic shifts in life histories, both indirectly by limiting gene flow among populations and directly by altering the selective environments where populations persisted.
Corresponding Editor: L. Bernatchez