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Biogeography and evolutionary history of Hyperolius species: application of molecular phylogeny

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Abstract Aim

We propose a phylogeny of selected Hyperolius species (Anura: Hyperoliidae), based on mtDNA sequence data and parsimony analysis. This phylogeny was used to interpret the historical biogeography of the genus in Africa. Location

Samples were collected throughout the distribution of Hyperolius in Africa. Methods

We compiled distributional maps of all species, summarized historical changes in vegetation and climate in Africa since the late Cretaceous, and used these in combination to identify historical factors that may have contributed to speciation in these frogs. A phylogeny for Hyperolius was derived from mtDNA sequence data and interpreted in terms of climatic and vegetation changes in Africa. Main conclusions

Lowland rainforest is proposed to have been the ancestral habitat of Hyperolius. The expansion of savannah and reduction of lowland rainforest were identified as important factors in the differentiation of the more basal species. Finally, the development of the Rift Valley system played an important role in the speciation of derived species with relatively limited distributions.

Keywords: African frogs; Hyperolius; biogeography; phylogeny; speciation

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Herpetology, California Academy of Sciences, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CA 9411, USA 2: Department of Zoology, University of the Western Cape, Private Bag X17, Bellville 7535, South Africa;

Publication date: September 1, 2000

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