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PeerJ. 2017 Sep 11;5:e3770. doi: 10.7717/peerj.3770. eCollection 2017.

Phylogeographic investigation and ecological niche modelling of the endemic frog species Nanorana pleskei revealed multiple refugia in the eastern Tibetan Plateau.

Author information

1
CAS Key Laboratory of Mountain Ecological Restoration and Bioresource Utilization, Ecological Restoration and Biodiversity Conservation Key Laboratory of Sichuan Province, Chengdu Institute of Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Chengdu, Sichuan, China.
2
Nanjing Institute of Environmental Sciences Under Ministry of Environmental Protection, Nanjing, Jiangsu, China.

Abstract

The largest plateau Tibetan Plateau supplied an excellent opportunity to investigate the influence of the Pleistocene events on the high-elevation species. To test for the alternative hypotheses of Pleistocene glacial refugia, we used partial sequences of two mitochondrial genes and one nuclear gene to examine the phylogeographic patterns of the endemic frog species Nanorana pleskei across its known range in the eastern Tibetan Plateau, and conducted species distribution modelling (SDM) to explore changes of its distribution range through current and paleo periods. In all data sets, the species was divided into lineage north occupying open plateau platform and lineage south colonizing the mountainous plateau. The divergence of two major clades was estimated at the early Pleistocene. In mtDNA, lineage north contained northeastern and northwestern sublineages, and lineage south had two overlapping-distributed sublineages. Different lineages possessed distinct demographic characteristics, i.e., subdivision in the northeastern sublineage, historical bottleneck effects and recent expansions in the northwestern sublineage and the southeastern sublineage. SDMs depicted that stable suitable habitats had existed in the upper-middle streams of the Yellow River, Dadu River, Jinsha River and Yalong River. These regions were also recognized as the ancestral areas of different lineages. In conclusion, Nanorana pleskei lineages have probably experienced long-term separations. Stable suitable habitats existing in upper-middle streams of major rivers on the eastern Tibetan Plateau and distinct demographic dynamics of different lineages indicated that the lineages possessed independent evolutionary processes in multiple glacial refugia. The findings verified the profound effects of Pleistocene climatic fluctuations on the plateau endemic species.

KEYWORDS:

Demography; Genetic structure; Multiple refugia; Phylogeography; Species distribution modelling; Tibetan Plateau

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

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