The Repository @ St. Cloud State

Open Access Knowledge and Scholarship

Date of Award


Culminating Project Type




Degree Name

Biological Sciences - Ecology and Natural Resources: M.S.




College of Science and Engineering

First Advisor

Matthew Davis

Second Advisor

Sarah Gibson

Third Advisor

Matthew Julius

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Keywords and Subject Headings

Aulopiformes, Lizardfishes, Biogeography


Aulopiformes are a lineage of marine ray-finned fishes with 17 extant families and approximately 250 species. They are distributed worldwide in a variety of marine habitats, from coral reefs to the deep sea. In chapter 1 of this thesis, I will explore the major biogeographic patterns within current biodiversity of the order Aulopiformes. I used GIS software in combination with locality information of museum specimens from the database GBIF (Global Biodiversity Information Facility) to create distribution maps of aulopiform biodiversity for every species within each family and subfamily with significant numbers of occurrence data. Each map contains locality information in the form of geographic points for every species of Aulopiformes that was available through GBIF. These maps were then compared to major biogeographic realms based on biodiversity endemicity within the oceans of the world and evaluated significant biogeographic patterns. Overall, Aulopiformes occupy 4 of the 5 major pelagic realms and 27 of 30 of the benthic/coastal realms among the wolrd’s oceans. Aulopiform species that are pelagic for both larval and adult life stages have wider distributions than those who are benthic or coastal in any life stage. Pelagic Aulopiformes also have migrated into cooler oceans toward the North and South Poles while benthic/coastal Aulopiformes typically are restricted to warmer central waters near the equator. In chapter 2, a statistical ancestral area reconstruction analysis was performed in combination with a time-calibrated hypothesis of the evolutionary history of Aulopiformes to further explore aulopiform biogeographic patterns through time. The results of this thesis conclude that aulopiform fishes most likely originated within the Tethys Sea around 140 million years ago. They most likely lived in a warm climate and began migrating to cooler waters around 65 million years ago.


I would like to thank St. Cloud State University for providing me the opportunity to conduct this study. Fundings for this study were provided by St. Cloud State University through the Student Research Mentor/Mentee Collaboration Grant. I would like to thank my advisor, Matthew Davis and my committee members Sarah Gibson and Matthew Julius for the comments and feedback. I would also like to thank my parents, Kelly and Darci Lanam for their continuous support in my academic career. Lastly, I would like to thank my fiancé Joshua Moore for his patience and confidence in my work

Available for download on Friday, August 11, 2023