Royal Society Publishing

Prediction of phylogeographic endemism in an environmentally complex biome

Ana Carolina Carnaval, Eric Waltari, Miguel T. Rodrigues, Dan Rosauer, Jeremy VanDerWal, Roberta Damasceno, Ivan Prates, Maria Strangas, Zoe Spanos, Danielle Rivera, Marcio R. Pie, Carina R. Firkowski, Marcos R. Bornschein, Luiz F. Ribeiro, Craig Moritz

Abstract

Phylogeographic endemism, the degree to which the history of recently evolved lineages is spatially restricted, reflects fundamental evolutionary processes such as cryptic divergence, adaptation and biological responses to environmental heterogeneity. Attempts to explain the extraordinary diversity of the tropics, which often includes deep phylogeographic structure, frequently invoke interactions of climate variability across space, time and topography. To evaluate historical versus contemporary drivers of phylogeographic endemism in a tropical system, we analyse the effects of current and past climatic variation on the genetic diversity of 25 vertebrates in the Brazilian Atlantic rainforest. We identify two divergent bioclimatic domains within the forest and high turnover around the Rio Doce. Independent modelling of these domains demonstrates that endemism patterns are subject to different climatic drivers. Past climate dynamics, specifically areas of relative stability, predict phylogeographic endemism in the north. Conversely, contemporary climatic heterogeneity better explains endemism in the south. These results accord with recent speleothem and fossil pollen studies, suggesting that climatic variability through the last 250 kyr impacted the northern and the southern forests differently. Incorporating sub-regional differences in climate dynamics will enhance our ability to understand those processes shaping high phylogeographic and species endemism, in the Neotropics and beyond.

  • Received June 13, 2014.
  • Accepted July 22, 2014.
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