Friday, February 23, 2024

[Herpetology • 2024] Integrative Species Delimitation and Biogeography of the Rhinella margaritifera Species Group (Anura: Bufonidae) suggest an Intense Diversification throughout Amazonia during the last 10 MillionYears

Rhinella margaritifera species group

 in Fouquet, Ferrão, Rodrigues, Werneck, Prates, Moraes, Hrbek, Chaparro, ... et Avila, 2024.

The accumulation of studies delimiting species in Amazonia has not only shed light on the patterns of its outstanding species richness but also allowed a better understanding of the processes of diversification within this immense region. Nevertheless, vast knowledge gaps remain even for prominent anuran species complexes, such as the Rhinella margaritifera species group. This clade of toads comprises 23 valid species-level taxa, mainly distributed in Amazonia but also in South America’s Dry Diagonal and Atlantic and trans-Andean rainforests. Species boundaries and taxonomy in this group are notoriously complex, with studies suggesting the existence of several unnamed species. Available phylogenetic information suggests an Andean-western Amazonian origin of the group with subsequent diversification within Amazonian lowlands during the last 10 Myr and secondary dispersals into other Neotropical regions. To further test this biogeographic scenario and improve knowledge on species diversity, we used an unprecedentedly large mtDNA sampling (>800 16S sequences) across the clade’s distribution and comprising all but one described species. We delimited 54 Molecular Operational Taxonomic Units, which we tested further based on patterns of variation of a nuclear locus and acoustic and morphological data. This approach confirmed the existence of at least 25 candidate species, 19 of which correspond to currently recognized taxa whereas 30 remained ‘unconfirmed’. Our results clarify the taxonomic status of some species but also suggest multiple introgression events that blur some mtDNA-based species boundaries. Lastly, to provide a temporal framework for the clade’s diversification, we generated a time-calibrated phylogenetic tree based on a mitogenomic matrix, which confirmed a Miocene (∼9 Ma) western Amazonian origin and six major clades in the group, each having initially diversified in different regions within Amazonia. Most of these clades have later dispersed throughout Amazonia during the establishment of the modern Amazonian hydrographic system, i.e., in the last 6 Myr.

Key words: Bioacoustics, cryptic species, DNA, morphometrics, Neotropics, phylogenetics

Antoine Fouquet, Miqueias Ferrão, Miguel T. Rodrigues, Fernanda P. Werneck, Ivan Prates, Leandro J.C.L. Moraes, Tomas Hrbek, Juan C. Chaparro, Albertina P. Lima, Renata Perez, Andre Pansonato, Vinicius T. Carvalho, Alexandre P. Almeida, Marcelo Gordo, Izeni P. Farias, Konstantin D. Milto, Igor J. Roberto, Rommel R. Rojas, Santiago R. Ron, Vinicius Guerra, Renato Recoder, Agustin Camacho, Luis Mamani, Raissa N. Rainha and Robson W. Avila. 2024. Integrative Species Delimitation and Biogeography of the Rhinella margaritifera Species Group (Amphibia, Anura, Bufonidae) suggest an Intense Diversification throughout Amazonia during the last 10 Million years. Systematics and Biodiversity. 22(1); 2291086. DOI: 10.1080/14772000.2023.2291086