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Volume 549 Issue 7670, 7 September 2017

The cover shows the Martin Vaz Islands, part of the archipelago of Trindade and Martin Vaz that lies some 1,170 kilometres east of Brazil. These volcanic islands were at the heart of a study by Hudson Pinheiro and his colleagues that examined the evolutionary history of reef fish living in the inshore waters of the archipelago. Island biogeographers tend to concentrate on the terrestrial residents of islands, and how sea-level change, invasion and endemism influence diversity. Less attention has been paid to the marine organisms that make the waters around islands their home. The study of reef fish by Pinheiro and his team helps shed light on the processes that shape the aquatic environments of islands. The researchers found that sea-level changes have helped to drive marine speciation, but because fish are better at dispersing than land-based organisms, the influx of immigrants helps to drive an increase in diversity. As a result, the authors conclude that island geography, geological history and sea-level fluctuations influence the dispersal of marine organisms in different ways from the effect on land-based organisms. Cover image: Joã£o Luiz Gasparini

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