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Cryptic elevational zonation in trapdoor spiders (Araneae, Antrodiaetidae, Aliatypus janus complex) from the California southern Sierra Nevada

Starrett, James, Hayashi, Cheryl Y., Derkarabetian, Shahan, Hedin, Marshal
Molecular phylogenetics and evolution 2018 v.118 pp. 403-413
Antrodiaetidae, Ctenizidae, allopatric speciation, biogeography, cryptic speciation, cryptic species, models, mountains, niches, topographic slope, California, Sierra Nevada (California)
The relative roles of ecological niche conservatism versus niche divergence in promoting montane speciation remains an important topic in biogeography. Here, our aim was to test whether lineage diversification in a species complex of trapdoor spiders corresponds with riverine barriers or with an ecological gradient associated with elevational tiering. Aliatypus janus was sampled from throughout its range, with emphasis on populations in the southern Sierra Nevada Mountains of California. We collected multi-locus genetic data to generate a species tree for A. janus and its close relatives. Coalescent based hypothesis tests were conducted to determine if genetic breaks within A. janus conform to riverine barriers. Ecological niche models (ENM) under current and Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) conditions were generated and hypothesis tests of niche conservatism and divergence were performed. Coalescent analyses reveal deeply divergent genetic lineages within A. janus, likely corresponding to cryptic species. Two primary lineages meet along an elevational gradient on the western slopes of the southern Sierra Nevada Mountains. ENMs under both current and LGM conditions indicate that these groups occupy largely non-overlapping niches. ENM hypothesis testing rejected niche identity between the two groups, and supported a sharp ecological gradient occurring where the groups meet. However, the niche similarity test indicated that the two groups may not inhabit different background niches. The Sierra Nevada Mountains provide a natural laboratory for simultaneously testing ecological niche divergence and conservatism and their role in speciation across a diverse range of taxa. Aliatypus janus represents a species complex with cryptic lineages that may have diverged due to parapatric speciation along an ecological gradient, or been maintained by the evolution of ecological niche differences following allopatric speciation.