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A comprehensive phylogeny of the genus Kurixalus (Rhacophoridae, Anura) sheds light on the geographical range evolution of frilled swamp treefrogs

Lv, Yun-Yun, He, Kai, Klaus, Sebastian, Brown, Rafe M., Li, Jia-Tang
Molecular phylogenetics and evolution 2018 v.121 pp. 224-232
Hylidae, Miocene epoch, Oligocene epoch, Rhacophoridae, climate change, climatic factors, data collection, genes, glaciation, mitochondria, mitochondrial DNA, phylogeny, river valleys, seawater, species diversity, statistical analysis, China, Indochina, South China Sea, Taiwan, Vietnam
Currently, the genus Kurixalus comprises 14 species distributed in Southern, Southeast and East Asia. Because of their relatively low dispersal capability and intolerance of seawater, this group is ideal for the study of terrestrial range evolution, especially that portion of its range that extends into the island archipelagos of Southern Asia.We assembled a large dataset of mitochondrial and nuclear genes, and estimated phylogeny by maximum likelihood and Bayesian methods, and we explored the history of each species via divergence-time estimation based on fossil-calibrations. A variety of ancestral-area reconstruction strategies were employed to estimate past changes of the species’ geographical range, and to evaluate the impact of different abiotic barriers on range evolution. We found that frilled swamp treefrogs probably originated in Taiwan or South Vietnam in the Oligocene. Alternatively, the lineage leading to Kurixalus appendiculatus strongly supports a hypothesis of terrestrial connection between the Indian and Asian continents in the Oligocene. The outcome of both our divergence-time estimates and ancestral-area reconstruction suggests that the divergence between species from Indochina and Taiwan can probably be attributed to the opening of the South China Sea, approximately 33 million years ago. We could not find evidence for dispersal between mainland China and Taiwan Island. Formation of both Mekong and Red River valleys did not have any impact on Kurixalus species diversification. However, coincidence in timing of climate change and availability of plausible dispersal routes from the Oligocene to the middle Miocene, plausibly implied that Kurixalus diversification in Asia resulted from contemporaneous, climate-induced environmental upheaval (Late Oligocene Warming at 29 Ma; Mi-1 glaciation since 24.4–21.5 Ma; Mid-Miocene Climatic Optimum at 14 Ma), which alternatively opened and closed dispersal routes.