Send to

Choose Destination
Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2001 Feb;18(2):174-88.

Molecular systematics of Plethodon and Aneides (Caudata: Plethodontidae: Plethodontini): phylogenetic analysis of an old and rapid radiation.

Author information

Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, Department of Integrative Biology, University of California, 3101 Valley Life Sciences Building, Berkeley, CA 94720-3160, USA.


The closely related salamander genera Plethodon and Aneides (Plethodontidae) differ in morphology, behavior, and ecology. Although the systematics of these taxa has been the focus of much study, many details remain unresolved. To generate an hypothesis for the relationships among these taxa, I sequenced a segment of the mitochondrial protein-coding gene ND4 and portions of mitochondrial tRNAs. Taxa sampled were 5 species of Aneides, 7 species of western Plethodon, and 13 species of eastern Plethodon. Ensatina eschscholtzii was used as the outgroup. Phylogenetic analyses using maximum-parsimony, neighbor-joining, and maximum-likelihood consistently recovered some relationships. The eastern species of Plethodon are a robust, well-supported clade. Sister taxon relationships of P. elongatus and P. stormi, of P. dunni and P. vehiculum, and of A. hardii and the three west coast species of Aneides were also consistently resolved with good support. The monophyly of Aneides was only weakly supported in some analyses and there is no evidence for the monophyly of Plethodon or of the western species of Plethodon. Excluding the relatively distant outgroup, down-weighting saturated substitutions, and analyzing conserved data partitions did not yield additional resolution or support among the lineages of western Plethodon and Aneides. These results are consistent either with saturation of sequences, due to the age of the lineages, or with relatively rapid radiation. An old, rapid radiation is consistent with the results of previous studies. An analysis of current taxonomy within the phylogenetic framework presented here retains Aneides and recognizes Plethodon as a metataxon (indicated with an asterisk, Plethodon*).

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center