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Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2011 Mar;58(3):546-52. doi: 10.1016/j.ympev.2010.12.009. Epub 2011 Jan 20.

Speciation in tropical seas: allopatry followed by range change.

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USR 3278, Centre de Biologie et Écologie Tropicale et Méditéranéenne, Université de Perpignan Via Domitia, Perpignan, France.


We investigated whether present distribution ranges in marine organisms are reliable indicators of the geographic pattern of past speciation events by assessing the level of geographic overlap (sympatric index) as a function of node age in four phylogenies of tropical marine species groups. The analyses led to remarkably similar results among the four groups examined with (1) most nodes associated with a sympatry index of either 0 (allopatry) or 1 (entire overlap) and (2) statistical support that sister species have an allopatric distribution significantly more frequently than sister clades (i.e. groups of species). Species divergences were expressed on a time scale and very similar times were needed for species range overlap to occur since sharp transitions from allopatry to sympatry occurred around 4 Ma in all groups. Present results supports that species range changes were not random as previous simulations results supports that species range probably evolve through occasional shifts of large amplitude. In front of the time needed for species range overlapping, our study suggests that species interaction and competitive exclusion can no longer be excluded as a driver of marine species distribution.

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