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Creators/Authors contains: "Rabosky, Daniel L."

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  1. Abstract

    Many subspecies were described to capture phenotypic variation in wide-ranging taxa, with some later being found to correspond to divergent genetic lineages. We investigate whether currently recognized subspecies correspond to distinctive and coherent evolutionary lineages in the widespread Australian lizard Ctenotus pantherinus based on morphological, mitochondrial and genome-wide nuclear variation. We find weak and inconsistent correspondence between morphological patterns and the presumed subspecies ranges, with character polymorphism within regions and broad morphological overlap across regions. Phylogenetic analyses suggest paraphyly of populations assignable to each subspecies, mitonuclear discordance and little congruence between subspecies ranges and the distribution of inferred clades. Genotypic clustering supports admixture across regions. These results undermine the presumed phenotypic and genotypic coherence and distinctiveness of C. pantherinus subspecies. Based on our findings, we comment on the operational and conceptual shortcomings of morphologically defined subspecies and discuss practical challenges in applying the general notion of subspecies as incompletely separated population lineages. We conclude by highlighting a historical asymmetry that has implications for ecology, evolution and conservation: subspecies proposed in the past are difficult to falsify even in the face of new data that challenge their coherence and distinctiveness, whereas modern researchers appear hesitant to propose new subspecies.

  2. Abstract

    Understanding phenotypic disparity across the tree of life requires identifying where and when evolutionary rates change on phylogeny. A primary methodological challenge in macroevolution is therefore to develop methods for accurate inference of among-lineage variation in rates of phenotypic evolution. Here, we describe a method for inferring among-lineage evolutionary rate heterogeneity in both continuous and discrete traits. The method assumes that the present-day distribution of a trait is shaped by a variable-rate process arising from a mixture of constant-rate processes and uses a single-pass tree traversal algorithm to estimate branch-specific evolutionary rates. By employing dynamic programming optimization techniques and approximate maximum likelihood estimators where appropriate, our method permits rapid exploration of the tempo and mode of phenotypic evolution. Simulations indicate that the method reconstructs rates of trait evolution with high accuracy. Application of the method to data sets on squamate reptile reproduction and turtle body size recovers patterns of rate heterogeneity identified by previous studies but with computational costs reduced by many orders of magnitude. Our results expand the set of tools available for detecting macroevolutionary rate heterogeneity and point to the utility of fast, approximate methods for studying large-scale biodiversity dynamics. [Brownian motion; continuous characters; discrete characters; macroevolution;more »Markov process; rate heterogeneity.]

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  3. Rates of species formation vary widely across the tree of life and contribute to massive disparities in species richness among clades. This variation can emerge from differences in metapopulation-level processes that affect the rates at which lineages diverge, persist, and evolve reproductive barriers and ecological differentiation. For example, populations that evolve reproductive barriers quickly should form new species at faster rates than populations that acquire reproductive barriers more slowly. This expectation implicitly links microevolutionary processes (the evolution of populations) and macroevolutionary patterns (the profound disparity in speciation rate across taxa). Here, leveraging extensive field sampling from the Neotropical Cerrado biome in a biogeographically controlled natural experiment, we test the role of an important microevolutionary process—the propensity for population isolation—as a control on speciation rate in lizards and snakes. By quantifying population genomic structure across a set of codistributed taxa with extensive and phylogenetically independent variation in speciation rate, we show that broad-scale patterns of species formation are decoupled from demographic and genetic processes that promote the formation of population isolates. Population isolation is likely a critical stage of speciation for many taxa, but our results suggest that interspecific variability in the propensity for isolation has little influence on speciation rates.more »These results suggest that other stages of speciation—including the rate at which reproductive barriers evolve and the extent to which newly formed populations persist—are likely to play a larger role than population isolation in controlling speciation rate variation in squamates.« less
  4. Ruane, Sara (Ed.)
    Abstract Genome-scale data have the potential to clarify phylogenetic relationships across the tree of life but have also revealed extensive gene tree conflict. This seeming paradox, whereby larger data sets both increase statistical confidence and uncover significant discordance, suggests that understanding sources of conflict is important for accurate reconstruction of evolutionary history. We explore this paradox in squamate reptiles, the vertebrate clade comprising lizards, snakes, and amphisbaenians. We collected an average of 5103 loci for 91 species of squamates that span higher-level diversity within the clade, which we augmented with publicly available sequences for an additional 17 taxa. Using a locus-by-locus approach, we evaluated support for alternative topologies at 17 contentious nodes in the phylogeny. We identified shared properties of conflicting loci, finding that rate and compositional heterogeneity drives discordance between gene trees and species tree and that conflicting loci rarely overlap across contentious nodes. Finally, by comparing our tests of nodal conflict to previous phylogenomic studies, we confidently resolve 9 of the 17 problematic nodes. We suggest this locus-by-locus and node-by-node approach can build consensus on which topological resolutions remain uncertain in phylogenomic studies of other contentious groups. [Anchored hybrid enrichment (AHE); gene tree conflict; molecular evolution; phylogenomic concordance;more »target capture; ultraconserved elements (UCE).]« less