A test of alternative models of diversification in tropical rainforests: Ecological gradients vs. rainforest refugia

Schneider, C. J., Smith, T. B., Larison, B. and Moritz, C (1999) A test of alternative models of diversification in tropical rainforests: Ecological gradients vs. rainforest refugia. PNAS, 96 24: 13869-13873. doi:10.1073/pnas.96.24.13869


Author Schneider, C. J.
Smith, T. B.
Larison, B.
Moritz, C
Title A test of alternative models of diversification in tropical rainforests: Ecological gradients vs. rainforest refugia
Journal name PNAS   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0027-8424
Publication date 1999
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1073/pnas.96.24.13869
Open Access Status Not Open Access
Volume 96
Issue 24
Start page 13869
End page 13873
Total pages 5
Place of publication Washington
Publisher National Acadamy of Sciences
Collection year 1999
Language eng
Subject C1
780105 Biological sciences
Abstract Comparison of mitochondrial and morphological divergence in eight populations of a widespread leaf-litter skink is used to determine the relative importance of geographic isolation and natural selection in generating phenotypic diversity in the Wet Tropics Rainforest region of Australia. The populations occur in two geographically isolated regions, and within each region, in two different habitats (closed rainforest and tall open forest) that span a well characterized ecological gradient. Morphological differences among ancient geographic isolates (separated for several million years, judging by their mitochondrial DNA sequence divergence) were slight, but morphological and life history differences among habitats were large and occurred despite moderate to high levels of mitochondrial gene flow. A field experiment identified avian predation as one potential agent of natural selection. These results indicate that natural selection operating across ecological gradients can be more important than geographic isolation in similar habitats in generating phenotypic: diversity. In addition, our results indicate that selection is sufficiently strong to overcome the homogenizing effects of gene flow, a necessary first step toward speciation in continuously distributed populations. Because ecological gradients may be a source of evolutionary novelty, and perhaps new species, their conservation warrants greater attention. This is particularly true in tropical regions, where most reserves do not include ecological gradients and transitional habitats.
Keyword Ecology
Rain-forest
Natural-populations
Body-size
Speciation
Phylogeography
Conservation
Evolution
Q-Index Code C1

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collection: Faculty of Science Publications
 
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Created: Tue, 10 Jun 2008, 13:47:47 EST