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PLoS One. 2014 Sep 10;9(9):e103958. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0103958. eCollection 2014.

High levels of diversity uncovered in a widespread nominal taxon: continental phylogeography of the neotropical tree frog Dendropsophus minutus.

Author information

Division of Evolutionary Biology, Zoological Institute, Technical University of Braunschweig, Braunschweig, Germany; Pós-graduação em Sistemática e Evolução, Centro de Biociências, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Norte, Campus Universitário Lagoa Nova, Natal, RN, Brasil.
Departamento de Ciencias Biológicas, Universidad de los Andes, Bogotá, Colombia; Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Panamá, Republic of Panama.
Universidade de São Paulo, Instituto de Biociências, Departamento de Zoologia, São Paulo, Brasil.
Division of Evolutionary Biology, Zoological Institute, Technical University of Braunschweig, Braunschweig, Germany.
Trier University, Biogeography Department, Trier, Germany.
CNRS-Guyane - USR3456, Immeuble Le Relais - 2, Cayenne, French Guiana.
Departamento de Ciencias Biológicas, Universidad de los Andes, Bogotá, Colombia.
Departamento de Zoologia, Instituto de Biociências, UNESP, Rio Claro, São Paulo, Brasil; Instituto de Investigación Biológica del Paraguay, Asunción, Paraguay.
Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales, Madrid, Spain.
Museum of Zoology, Senckenberg Natural History Collections Dresden, Dresden, Germany.
Peruvian Center for Biodiversity and Conservation (PCRC), Nanay, Iquitos, Peru.
Zoologische Staatssammlung München, München, Germany.
Universidad Tecnológica Indoamérica, Centro de Investigación de la Biodiversidad y el Cambio Climático (BioCamp), Cotocollao, Quito, Ecuador.
Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung, Frankfurt am Main, Germany.
Amphibian Evolution Lab, Department of Biology, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels, Belgium.
German Herpetological Society (DGHT), Mannheim, Germany.
Universidade Tecnológica Federal do Paraná, Francisco Beltrão, PR, Brasil.
Departamento de Zoologia, Instituto de Biociências, UNESP, Rio Claro, São Paulo, Brasil.
Department of Zoology, National Museum, Prague, Czech Republic.
Departamento de Vertebrados, Museu Nacional, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Fundación La Salle de Ciencias Naturales, Museo de Historia Natural La Salle, Caracas, Venezuela.
Hessisches Landesmuseum Darmstadt, Department of Zoology, Darmstadt, Germany.
Laboratorio de Ecología y Genética de Poblaciones, Centro de Ecología, Instituto Venezolano de Investigaciones Científicas, Caracas, Venezuela.
Universidade Estadual de Santa Cruz, Departamento de Ciências Biológicas, Rodovia Ilhéus-Itabuna, Bahia, Brasil.
Department of Biology, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, United States of America.

Erratum in

  • PLoS One. 2014;9(10):e111829.


Species distributed across vast continental areas and across major biomes provide unique model systems for studies of biotic diversification, yet also constitute daunting financial, logistic and political challenges for data collection across such regions. The tree frog Dendropsophus minutus (Anura: Hylidae) is a nominal species, continentally distributed in South America, that may represent a complex of multiple species, each with a more limited distribution. To understand the spatial pattern of molecular diversity throughout the range of this species complex, we obtained DNA sequence data from two mitochondrial genes, cytochrome oxidase I (COI) and the 16S rhibosomal gene (16S) for 407 samples of D. minutus and closely related species distributed across eleven countries, effectively comprising the entire range of the group. We performed phylogenetic and spatially explicit phylogeographic analyses to assess the genetic structure of lineages and infer ancestral areas. We found 43 statistically supported, deep mitochondrial lineages, several of which may represent currently unrecognized distinct species. One major clade, containing 25 divergent lineages, includes samples from the type locality of D. minutus. We defined that clade as the D. minutus complex. The remaining lineages together with the D. minutus complex constitute the D. minutus species group. Historical analyses support an Amazonian origin for the D. minutus species group with a subsequent dispersal to eastern Brazil where the D. minutus complex originated. According to our dataset, a total of eight mtDNA lineages have ranges >100,000 km2. One of them occupies an area of almost one million km2 encompassing multiple biomes. Our results, at a spatial scale and resolution unprecedented for a Neotropical vertebrate, confirm that widespread amphibian species occur in lowland South America, yet at the same time a large proportion of cryptic diversity still remains to be discovered.

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