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A Passerine Bird's Evolution Corroborates the Geologic History of the Island of New Guinea

By Kristy Deiner, Alan R. Lemmon, Andrew L. Mack, Robert C. Fleischer and John P. Dumbacher


New Guinea is a biologically diverse island, with a unique geologic history and topography that has likely played a role in the evolution of species. Few island-wide studies, however, have examined the phylogeographic history of lowland species. The objective of this study was to examine patterns of phylogeographic variation of a common and widespread New Guinean bird species (Colluricincla megarhyncha). Specifically, we test the mechanisms hypothesized to cause geographic and genetic variation (e.g., vicariance, isolation by distance and founder-effect with dispersal). To accomplish this, we surveyed three regions of the mitochondrial genome and a nuclear intron and assessed differences among 23 of the 30 described subspecies from throughout their range. We found support for eight highly divergent lineages within C. megarhyncha. Genetic lineages were found within continuous lowland habitat or on smaller islands, but all individuals within clades were not necessarily structured by predicted biogeographic barriers. There was some evidence of isolation by distance and potential founder-effects. Mitochondrial DNA sequence divergence among lineages was at a level often observed among different species or even genera of birds (5–11%), suggesting lineages within regions have been isolated for long periods of time. When topographical barriers were associated with divergence patterns, the estimated divergence date for the clade coincided with the estimated time of barrier formation. We also found that dispersal distance and range size are positively correlated across lineages. Evidence from this research suggests that different phylogeographic mechanisms concurrently structure lineages of C. megarhyncha and are not mutually exclusive. These lineages are a result of evolutionary forces acting at different temporal and spatial scales concordant with New Guinea's geological history

Topics: Research Article
Publisher: Public Library of Science
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Provided by: PubMed Central

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