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Dispersal, Vicariance, and Clocks: Historical Biogeography and Speciation in a Cosmopolitan Passerine Genus (Anthus: Motacillidae)

Gary Voelker
Evolution
Vol. 53, No. 5 (Oct., 1999), pp. 1536-1552
DOI: 10.2307/2640899
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2640899
Page Count: 17
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Dispersal, Vicariance, and Clocks: Historical Biogeography and Speciation in a Cosmopolitan Passerine Genus (Anthus: Motacillidae)
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Abstract

Dispersal and vicariant hypotheses have for decades been at odds with each other, notwithstanding the fact that both are well-established natural processes with important histories in biogeographic analyses. Despite their importance, neither dispersal nor vicariant methodologies are problem-free. The now widely used molecular techniques for generating phylogenies have provided a mechanism by which both dispersal- and vicariance-driven speciation can be better tested via the application of molecular clocks; unfortunately, substantial problems can also exist in the employment of those clocks. To begin to assess the relative roles of dispersal and vicariance in the establishment of avifaunas, especially intercontinental avifaunas, I applied a test for clocklike behavior in molecular data, as well as a program that infers ancestral areas and dispersal events, to a phylogeny of a speciose, cosmopolitan avian genus (Anthus; Motacillidae). Daughter-lineages above just 25 of 40 nodes in the Anthus phylogeny are evolving in a clocklike manner and are thus dateable by a molecular clock. Dating the applicable nodes suggests that Anthus arose nearly 7 million yr ago, probably in eastern Asia, and that between 6 and 5 million yr ago, Anthus species were present in Africa, the Palearctic, and North and South America. Speciation rates have been high throughout the Pliocene and quite low during the Pleistocene; further evidence that the Pleistocene may have had little effect in generating modern species. Intercontinental movements since 5 million yr ago have been few and largely restricted to interchange between Eurasia and Africa. Species swarms on North America, Africa, and Eurasia (but not South America or Australia) are the product of multiple invasions, rather than being solely the result of within-continent speciation. Dispersal has clearly played an important role in the distribution of this group.

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