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Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2010 May;55(2):711-20. doi: 10.1016/j.ympev.2009.12.023. Epub 2009 Dec 28.

Speciation dynamics in the SE Asian tropics: Putting a time perspective on the phylogeny and biogeography of Sundaland tree squirrels, Sundasciurus.

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Department of Evolutionary Biology, Uppsala University, Norbyvägen 18D, 752 36 Uppsala, Sweden.


Tropical rainforests are well known for their extraordinarily high levels of biodiversity. The origin of this species richness is still debated. For instance, the museum hypothesis states that over evolutionary time more and more species will accumulate with relatively few extinctions. In contrast, the Pleistocene diversification model argues that during the last 2 million years, climatic factors (glaciations) caused environmental changes that drove isolation and vicariant speciation events. In this study, we construct a molecular phylogeny of the Sundaland (Malay Peninsula, Sumata, Borneo, Palawan) and Greater Mindanao (Mindanao, Samar, Leyte) tree squirrels (genus Sundasciurus). Our results show that most speciation events in this forest dependent taxon occurred before the Pleistocene and that even the timing of intra-specific splits among populations from different landmasses are relatively old. Additionally, we found unexpectedly high divergence within and between highland populations of S. tenuis on Sumatra and the Malay Peninsula, highlighting the importance of Pliocene events in both speciation and within species divergences in this region.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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