skip to main content


The NSF Public Access Repository (NSF-PAR) system and access will be unavailable from 11:00PM ET on Friday, December 15 until 2:00 AM ET on Saturday, December 16 due to maintenance. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Title: Rapid Laurasian diversification of a pantropical bird family during the Oligocene–Miocene transition

Disjunct, pantropical distributions are a common pattern among avian lineages, but disentangling multiple scenarios that can produce them requires accurate estimates of historical relationships and timescales. Here, we clarify the biogeographical history of the pantropical avian family of trogons (Trogonidae) by re‐examining their phylogenetic relationships and divergence times with genome‐scale data. We estimated trogon phylogeny by analysing thousands of ultraconserved element (UCE) loci from all extant trogon genera with concatenation and coalescent approaches. We then estimated a time frame for trogon diversification using MCMCTree and fossil calibrations, after which we performed ancestral area estimation using BioGeoBEARS. We recovered the first well‐resolved hypothesis of relationships among trogon genera. Trogons comprise three clades, each confined to one of three biogeographical regions: Africa, Asia and the Neotropics, with the African clade sister to the others. These clades diverged rapidly during the Oligocene‐Miocene transition. Our biogeographical analyses identify a Eurasian origin for stem trogons and a crown clade arising from ancestors broadly distributed across Laurasia and Africa. The pantropical ranges of trogons are relicts of a broader Afro‐Laurasian distribution that was fragmented across Africa, Asia and the New World in near coincident fashion during the Oligocene‐Miocene transition by global cooling and changing habitats along the Beringian land bridge and North Africa.

more » « less
Author(s) / Creator(s):
 ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  
Publisher / Repository:
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Page Range / eLocation ID:
p. 137-152
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract

    The Platypleurini is a large group of charismatic cicadas distributed from Cape Agulhas in South Africa, through tropical Africa, Madagascar, India and eastern Asia to Japan, with generic diversity concentrated in equatorial and southern Africa. This distribution suggests the possibility of a Gondwanan origin and dispersal to eastern Asia from Africa or India. We used a four‐gene (three mitochondrial) molecular dataset, fossil calibrations and molecular clock information to explore the phylogenetic relationships of the platypleurine cicadas and the timing and geography of their diversification. The earliest splits in the tribe were found to separate forest genera in Madagascar and equatorial Africa from the main radiation, and all of the Asian/Indian species sampled formed a younger clade nested well within the African taxa. The tribe appears to have diversified during the Cenozoic, beginningc. 50–32 Ma, with most extant African lineages originating in the Miocene or later, well after the breakup of the Gondwanan landmass. Biogeographical analysis suggests an African origin for the tribe and a single dispersal event founding the Asian platypleurines, although additional taxon sampling and genetic data will be needed to confirm this pattern because key nodes in the tree are still weakly supported. Two Platypleurini genera from Madagascar (PycnaAmyot & Audinet‐Serville,YangaDistant) are found to have originated by late Miocene dispersal of a single lineage from Africa. The genusPlatypleurais recovered as polyphyletic, withPlatypleura signiferaWalker from South Africa and many Asian/Indian species apparently requiring assignment to different genera, and a newPlatypleuraconcept is proposed with the synonymization ofAzanicadaVilletsyn.n.The generaOrapaDistant andHamzaDistant, currently listed within separate tribes but suspected of platypleurine affinity, are nested deeply within the Platypleurini radiation. The tribe Orapinisyn.n. is here synonymized while the tribe Hamzini is pending a decision of the ICZN to preserve nomenclatorial stability.

    more » « less
  2. Abstract

    Nylanderia(Emery) is one of the world's most diverse ant genera, with 123 described species worldwide and hundreds more undescribed. Fifteen globetrotting or invasive species have widespread distributions and are often encountered outside their native ranges. A molecular approach to understanding the evolutionary history and to revision ofNylanderiataxonomy is needed because historical efforts based on morphology have proven insufficient to define major lineages and delimit species boundaries, especially where adventive species are concerned. To address these problems, we generated the first genus‐wide genomic dataset ofNylanderiausing ultraconserved elements (UCEs) to resolve the phylogeny of major lineages, determine the age and origin of the genus, and describe global biogeographical patterns. Sampling from seven biogeographical regions revealed a Southeast Asian origin ofNylanderiain the mid‐Eocene and four distinct biogeographical clades in the Nearctic, the Neotropics, the Afrotropics/Malagasy region, and Australasia. The Nearctic and Neotropical clades are distantly related, indicating two separate dispersal events to the Americas between the late Oligocene and early Miocene. We also addressed the problem of misidentification that has characterized species‐level taxonomy inNylanderiaas a result of limited morphological variation in the worker caste by evaluating the integrity of species boundaries in six of the most widespreadNylanderiaspecies. We sampled across ranges of species in theN. bourbonicacomplex (N. bourbonica(Forel) + N. vaga(Forel)), theN. fulvacomplex (N. fulva(Mayr) + N. pubens(Forel)), and theN. guatemalensiscomplex (N. guatemalensis(Forel) + N. steinheili(Forel)) to clarify their phylogenetic placement. Deep splits within these complexes suggest that some species names – specificallyN. bourbonicaandN. guatemalensis– each are applied to multiple cryptic species. In exhaustively samplingNylanderiadiversity in the West Indies, a ‘hot spot’ for invasive taxa, we found five adventive species among 22 in the region; many remain morphologically indistinguishable from one another, despite being distantly related. We stress that overcoming the taxonomic impediment through the use of molecular phylogeny and revisionary study is essential for conservation and invasive species management.

    more » « less
  3. Abstract

    The biogeography of colletid bees as a whole can be explained by several South American‐Australian trans‐Antarctic interchanges. Within Colletidae, neopasiphaeine bees form a large group that has not been adequately studied, even though they are interesting both from the biogeographical viewpoint for fitting well the austral Gondwanan track and for their associations to host plants. The present paper integrates phylogenetic, biogeographic and paleontological data to reconstruct the evolutionary history of Neopasiphaeinae, with special emphasis on the New World taxa, relating the evolution of these bees to changes, such as the Andes uplift and expansion of open vegetation biomes. First, we propose a phylogenetic hypothesis for the Neopasiphaeinae using one mitochondrial and five nuclear loci. Phylogenetic relationships and divergence time estimation were simultaneously inferred in a Bayesian framework, and the tempo of neopasiphaeine diversification was investigated using lineage‐through‐time plots. The historical biogeography of neopasiphaeine bees was investigated in a likelihood framework. The clade represented by Neopasiphaeinae is strongly supported within Colletidae, and the bulk of their genera can be divided into two major sister‐clades that diverged during the Eocene: one endemic to the Australian region and the other to the Neotropical region. Divergence times among most neotropical genera of Neopasiphaeinae indicate that they differentiated and started their diversification during the Miocene. Our results depict a complex process of geographic evolution in the Neotropical clade, which probably relates to important changes in the neotropical climates and biota beginning at the Oligocene and became more marked in the Miocene. We present a scenario of the neotropical Neopasiphaeinae initially associated with areas of open vegetation in subtropical and temperate portions of South America, followed by multiple separations of lineages east and west of the Andes, and more recent occupations of habitats in tropical portions of the continent.

    more » « less
  4. Abstract

    The Old‐World Tropics encompass many unique biomes and associated biotas shaped by drastic climate and geological changes throughout the Cenozoic. Disjunct distributions of clades between the Afrotropics and the Oriental regions are testament to these changes. Awl and policeman skippers (Hesperiidae: Coeliadinae) are disjunctly distributed with some genera endemic to the Afrotropics and others restricted to the Oriental and Australian regions. We reconstruct the phylogeny of these butterflies using target exon capture phylogenomics. We also generate a dated framework for this clade that uses the putatively oldest known butterfly fossil to estimate the historical biogeography of Coeliadinae using a model‐based approach. We infer a stable and robust phylogeny for the subfamily, with all but one Afrotropical lineage forming a derived clade. The African genusPyrrhiadessyn. placed in synonymy withCoeliadesto accommodate the new phylogeny. Our comparative dating exercise casts doubt on the assignment of the fossilProtocoeliades kristensenias a derived Coeliadinae and suggests, along with our biogeographic estimation, a split of Coeliadinae from the rest of skippers in the Palaeoceneca. 70 million years ago. The origin of crown Coeliadinae skippers is estimated in Indomalaya during the late Eoceneca. 36 million years ago, with subsequent Oligocene colonisation events toward the Australian region and the Afrotropics. Colonisation of the Afrotropics from the Indian region occurred during climatic transition, associated biome shifts, and the closure of the Tethys Ocean, which likely allowed geodispersal through the Arabian Peninsula. The current disjunct distribution of Coeliadinae in the Old World Tropics may result from the emergence of savannahs in the Miocene that progressively replaced woodlands and forests in the Arabian Peninsula and western Asia. Coeliadinae skippers are almost exclusively dicot feeders and were likely extirpated as grasslands became dominant, resulting in the present‐day disjunct distribution of these butterflies.

    more » « less
  5. Hyaenodonta is a diverse, extinct group of carnivorous mammals that included weasel- to rhinoceros-sized species. The oldest-known hyaenodont fossils are from the middle Paleocene of North Africa and the antiquity of the group in Afro-Arabia led to the hypothesis that it originated there and dispersed to Asia, Europe, and North America. Here we describe two new hyaenodont species based on the oldest hyaenodont cranial specimens known from Afro-Arabia. The material was collected from the latest Eocene Locality 41 (L-41, ∼34 Ma) in the Fayum Depression, Egypt.Akhnatenavus nefertiticyonsp. nov. has specialized, hypercarnivorous molars and an elongate cranial vault. InA. nefertiticyonthe tallest, piercing cusp on M1–M2is the paracone.Brychotherium ephalmosgen. et sp. nov. has more generalized molars that retain the metacone and complex talonids. InB. ephalmosthe tallest, piercing cusp on M1–M2is the metacone. We incorporate this new material into a series of phylogenetic analyses using a character-taxon matrix that includes novel dental, cranial, and postcranial characters, and samples extensively from the global record of the group. The phylogenetic analysis includes the first application of Bayesian methods to hyaenodont relationships.B. ephalmosis consistently placed within Teratodontinae, an Afro-Arabian clade with several generalist and hypercarnivorous forms, andAkhnatenavusis consistently recovered in Hyainailourinae as part of an Afro-Arabian radiation. The phylogenetic results suggest that hypercarnivory evolved independently three times within Hyaenodonta: in Teratodontinae, in Hyainailourinae, and in Hyaenodontinae. Teratodontines are consistently placed in a close relationship with Hyainailouridae (Hyainailourinae + Apterodontinae) to the exclusion of “proviverrines,” hyaenodontines, and several North American clades, and we propose that the superfamily Hyainailouroidea be used to describe this relationship. Using the topologies recovered from each phylogenetic method, we reconstructed the biogeographic history of Hyaenodonta using parsimony optimization (PO), likelihood optimization (LO), and Bayesian Binary Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) to examine support for the Afro-Arabian origin of Hyaenodonta. Across all analyses, we found that Hyaenodonta most likely originated in Europe, rather than Afro-Arabia. The clade is estimated by tip-dating analysis to have undergone a rapid radiation in the Late Cretaceous and Paleocene; a radiation currently not documented by fossil evidence. During the Paleocene, lineages are reconstructed as dispersing to Asia, Afro-Arabia, and North America. The place of origin of Hyainailouroidea is likely Afro-Arabia according to the Bayesian topologies but it is ambiguous using parsimony. All topologies support the constituent clades–Hyainailourinae, Apterodontinae, and Teratodontinae–as Afro-Arabian and tip-dating estimates that each clade is established in Afro-Arabia by the middle Eocene.

    more » « less