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Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2006 Feb;38(2):470-87.

Studies of morphological and molecular phylogenetic divergence in spiders (Araneae: Homalonychus) from the American southwest, including divergence along the Baja California Peninsula.

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Department of Biology, San Diego State University, CA 92182-4614, USA.


Comparative phylogenetic and phylogeographic analyses have revealed a pervasive midpeninsular divergence in the mitochondrial genealogies of numerous vertebrate taxa distributed on the Baja California Peninsula. In this study, we extend the investigation of regional vicariance in Baja California to an arthropod taxon by examining patterns of phylogenetic and morphological divergence in the spider genus Homalonychus (Araneae, Homalonychidae). We analyzed data from two mtDNA genes (16S rRNA and NADH dehydrogenase subunit (1) and a nuclear gene (28S rRNA) using maximum parsimony and Bayesian phylogenetic analyses, and also conducted geometric morphometric analyses employing landmark data on male and female genitalia. Genes and morphology both reveal a deep split across the Colorado River and Gulf of California, separating Homalonychus selenopoides on the east side of river from its congener Homalonychus theologus on the west side of the river, including the Baja California Peninsula. Along the north-south axis of the Baja Peninsula, an apparently more recent midpeninsular phylogenetic break is evident within H. theologus in the mitochondrial genome and in female genitalia. However, there is no measurable divergence between northern and southern populations in either nuclear DNA or male genitalia. We suggest that this discordance between datasets reflects either a difference in rates of evolution between male versus female systems, or that male-based nuclear gene flow is obscuring a phylogenetic split that is fixed in the female-based systems. Our findings provide additional support for a midpeninsular Baja divergence event, although the timing and geological evidence for such an event remain elusive.

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