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Evolutionary history of the river frog genus Amietia (Anura: Pyxicephalidae) reveals extensive diversification in Central African highlands

Larson, Thornton R., Castro, Delilah, Behangana, Mathias, Greenbaum, Eli
Molecular phylogenetics and evolution 2016 v.99 pp. 168-181
Anura, frogs, genes, global cooling, highlands, lentic systems, monophyly, new species, phylogeography, rivers, Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Southern Africa, Uganda
The African river frog genus Amietia is found near rivers and other lentic water sources throughout central, eastern, and southern Africa. Because the genus includes multiple morphologically conservative species, taxonomic studies of river frogs have been relatively limited. We sampled 79 individuals of Amietia from multiple localities in and near the Albertine Rift (AR) of Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Uganda. We utilized single-gene (16S) and concatenated (12S, 16S, cyt b and RAG1) gene-tree analyses and coalescent species-tree analyses to construct phylogenetic trees. Two divergence dating approaches were used in BEAST, including secondary calibration points with 12S, 16S, cyt b and RAG1, and a molecular clock with the 12S, 16S, and cyt b genes. All analyses recovered Amietia as monophyletic with strong support, and revealed several well-supported cryptic lineages, which is consistent with other recent phylogeography studies of AR amphibians. Dating estimates were similar, and Amietia diversification is coincident with global cooling and aridification events in the Miocene and Pliocene, respectively. Our results suggest additional taxonomic work is needed to describe multiple new species of AR Amietia, some of which have limited geographic distributions that are likely to be of conservation concern.