The role of climate and islands in species diversification and reproductive-mode evolution of Old World tree frogs

Gajaba Ellepola, MARCIO PIE, Rohan Pethiyagoda, James Hanken, Madhava Meegaskumbura*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

Abstract

Large diversifications of species are known to occur unevenly across space and evolutionary lineages, but the relative importance of their driving mechanisms, such as climate, ecological opportunity and key evolutionary innovations (KEI), remains poorly understood. Here, we explore the remarkable diversification of rhacophorid frogs, which represent six percent of global amphibian diversity, utilize four distinct reproductive modes, and span a climatically variable area across mainland Asia, associated continental islands, and Africa. Using a complete species-level phylogeny, we find near-constant diversification rates but a highly uneven distribution of species richness. Montane regions on islands and some mainland regions have higher phylogenetic diversity and unique assemblages of taxa; we identify these as cool-wet refugia. Starting from a centre of origin, rhacophorids reached these distant refugia by adapting to new climatic conditions (‘niche evolution’-dominant), especially following the origin of KEIs such as terrestrial reproduction (in the Late Eocene) or by dispersal during periods of favourable climate (‘niche conservatism’-dominant).
Original languageEnglish
Article number347
Pages (from-to)1-14
JournalCommunications Biology
Volume5
Early online date11 Apr 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 11 Apr 2022

Keywords

  • climate
  • ecological opportunity
  • key evolutionary innovations
  • amphibian
  • rhacophorid frogs

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