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Deciphering the products of evolution at the species level: the need for an integrative taxonomy
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Biology, Department of Evolution, Genomics and Systematics, Evolutionary Biology.
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Biology, Department of Evolution, Genomics and Systematics, Evolutionary Biology.
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2009 (English)In: Zoologica Scripta, ISSN 0300-3256, E-ISSN 1463-6409, Vol. 38, no 4, 431-447 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Progress in molecular techniques together with the incorporation of phylogenetic analyses of DNA into taxonomy have caused an increase in the number of species' discoveries in groups with morphological characters that are difficult to study or in those containing polytypic species. But some emerged criticisms plead for a taxonomic conservatism grounded either on the requirement of providing evidences of morphological distinctiveness or reproductive barriers to erect new species names. In a case study of taxonomic research on Neotropical frogs, we combine several lines of evidence (morphological characters, prezygotic reproductive isolation and phylogenetic analyses of mitochondrial DNA) to test the status of 15 nominal species and to assess the degree of agreement of the different lines of evidence. Our study reveals that morphology alone is not sufficient to uncover all species, as there is no other single line of evidence independently. Full congruence between lines of evidence is restricted to only four out of the 15 species. Five species show congruence of two lines of evidence, whereas the remaining six are supported by only one. The use of divergence in morphological characters seems to be the most conservative approach to delineate species boundaries because it does not allow the identification of some sibling reciprocally monophyletic species differing in their advertisement calls. The separate analysis of differences in advertisement calls (evidence of reproductive isolation) or of phylogenetic data alone also shows limitations, because they do not support some morphological species. Our study shows that only an integrative approach combining all sources of evidence provides the necessary feedback to evaluate the taxonomic status of existing species and to detect putative new ones. Furthermore, the application of integrative taxonomy enables the identification of hypotheses about the existence of species that will probably be rejected or changed, and those that can be expected to persist.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2009. Vol. 38, no 4, 431-447 p.
National Category
Biological Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-100912DOI: 10.1111/j.1463-6409.2008.00381.xISI: 000267130400005OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-100912DiVA: diva2:211264
Available from: 2009-04-13 Created: 2009-04-13 Last updated: 2010-07-23Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Species Limits, and Evolutionary History of Glassfrogs
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Species Limits, and Evolutionary History of Glassfrogs
2009 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Recognizing the mechanisms of speciation and the limits of species is essential to understand the origin of biodiversity and how to conserve it. The general aims of my investigations during my doctoral studies were two-fold: to study evolutionary patterns and processes, and to provide specific and superspecific taxonomic classifications that try to reflect evolutionary history. I have focused my research on anurans in their biodiversity hotspot, the American Tropics.

I have used morphological, behavioral (mating calls), and genetic (DNA sequences) characters to study species boundaries between frogs of the genus Pristimantis and the family Centrolenidae (glassfrogs). The results show that the exclusive use of single lines of evidence or the application of arbitrary thresholds impair and bias our ability to recognize new species and limit the possibility to understand evolutionary processes. Only an integrative approach combining every source of evidence provides the necessary feedback to discover all species and test their identity by comparing independent sets of data. This approach further allows identifying those species that probably represent stable comparative units (well supported species hypotheses) and to flag taxa that require further assessment.

Phylogenetic reconstructions based on seven nuclear and mitochondrial genes for about 100 species of glassfrogs revealed that previous hypotheses of relationships were mislead by rampant convergent evolution at the phenotypic level. None of the previously suggested classifications fit with the reconstructed evolutionary history. Consequently, we proposed a new classification consistent with this phylogeny.

I also studied the tempo and mode of diversification among glassfrogs. Based on sequences from ten genes in 87 species, I estimated species divergence times, age-range correlation between sister species, and reconstructed ancestral areas and dispersal/vicariance events. The results revealed a complex model of diversification where geographical isolation seems to be the dominant scenario for speciation and only clades of altitudinal generalists have been able to spread across the Neotropical rainforests.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2009. 55 p.
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Science and Technology, ISSN 1651-6214 ; 642
Amphibia, Anura, Biogeography, Centrolenidae, Diversification, Frogs, Molecular Phylogenetics, Neotropics, Pristimantis, Speciation, Species, Systematics, Taxonomy
National Category
Biological Systematics
Research subject
Systematic Zoology
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-100923 (URN)978-91-554-7515-4 (ISBN)
Public defence
2009-05-26, Zootissalen, EBC, Villavägen 9, Uppsala, 09:00 (English)
Available from: 2009-05-05 Created: 2009-04-13 Last updated: 2009-05-28Bibliographically approved

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