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Phylogenetic surveys on the newt genus Tylototriton sensu lato (Salamandridae, Caudata) reveal cryptic diversity and novel diversification promoted by historical climatic shifts.

  • Author(s): Wang, Bin
  • Nishikawa, Kanto
  • Matsui, Masafumi
  • Nguyen, Truong Quang
  • Xie, Feng
  • Li, Cheng
  • Khatiwada, Janak Raj
  • Zhang, Baowei
  • Gong, Dajie
  • Mo, Yunming
  • Wei, Gang
  • Chen, Xiaohong
  • Shen, Youhui
  • Yang, Daode
  • Xiong, Rongchuan
  • Jiang, Jianping
  • et al.

Global climatic transitions and Tibetan Plateau uplifts are hypothesized to have profoundly impacted biodiversity in southeastern Asia. To further test the hypotheses related to the impacts of these incidents, we investigated the diversification patterns of the newt genus Tylototriton sensu lato, distributed across the mountain ranges of southeastern Asia. Gene-tree and species-tree analyses of two mitochondrial genes and two nuclear genes revealed five major clades in the genus, and suggested several cryptic species. Dating estimates suggested that the genus originated in the early-to-middle Miocene. Under different species delimitating scenarios, diversification analyses with birth-death likelihood tests indicated that the genus held a higher diversification rate in the late Miocene-to-Pliocene era than that in the Pleistocene. Ancestral area reconstructions indicated that the genus originated from the northern Indochina Peninsula. Accordingly, we hypothesized that the Miocene Climatic Transition triggered the diversification of the genus, and the reinforcement of East Asian monsoons associated with the stepwise uplifts of the Tibetan Plateau promoted the radiation of the genus in southeastern Asia during the Miocene-to-Pliocene period. Quaternary glacial cycles likely had limited effects on speciation events in the genus, but mainly had contributions on their intraspecific differentiations.

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