Molecular systematics and historical biogeography of tree boas (Corallus spp.)

Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution
Timothy J ColstonFrank T Burbrink


Inferring the evolutionary and biogeographic history of taxa occurring in a particular region is one way to determine the processes by which the biodiversity of that region originated. Tree boas of the genus Corallus are an ancient clade and occur throughout Central and South America and the Lesser Antilles, making it an excellent group for investigating Neotropical biogeography. Using sequenced portions of two mitochondrial and three nuclear loci for individuals of all recognized species of Corallus, we infer phylogenetic relationships, present the first molecular analysis of the phylogenetic placement of the enigmatic C. cropanii, develop a time-calibrated phylogeny, and explore the biogeographic history of the genus. We found that Corallus diversified within mainland South America, via over-water dispersals to the Lesser Antilles and Central America, and via the traditionally recognized Panamanian land bridge. Divergence time estimates reject the South American Caribbean-Track as a general biogeographic model for Corallus and implicate a role for events during the Oligocene and Miocene in diversification such as marine incursions and the uplift of the Andes. Our findings also suggest that recognition of the island endemic sp...Continue Reading


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