30 January, 2012

Phylogeography of co-distributed dune scorpions in Central Asia

Matthew Graham, Viktoria Olah-Hemmings and Victor Fet have recently published study of the phylogeography of the rare, psammophilic (sand-adapted) scorpions Anomalobuthus rickmersi Kraepelin, 1900 and Liobuthus kessleri Birula, 1898 (Buthidae) from Central Asia.

Although only distantly related, Anomalobuthus and Liobuthus are monotypic and sympatric scorpion genera with psammophilic phenotypes well-suited to the dune communities of the Karakum and Kyzylkum deserts of Central Asia. We predicted that this unique combination of phenotypic convergence and sympatry should have resulted in shared phylogeographic histories. We tested this hypothesis by using mitochondrial DNA data and molecular dating techniques to reconstruct the matrilineal genealogies of A. rickmersi and L. kessleri. We also developed current and late-glacial species distribution models and landscape interpolations of genetic distances to assess the influence of historical barriers and Pleistocene climates on the phylogeography of each species. Both genera exhibited signals of restricted gene flow across the Amu Darya River, supporting our prediction of mutual histories. Levels of initial genetic differentiation within each genus date to the Late Miocene to late Pliocene. Distribution models indicate that suitable habitat may have fragmented during the Pleistocene, generally in an east-west orientation. Although the observed genetic differentiation at the Amu Darya River could be a coincidental product of lineage sorting, the fact that both species display this pattern suggests that the river has been an important biogeographic element in the development of Central Asian biotas.

Graham MR, Olah-Hemmings V, Fet V. Phylogeography of co-distributed dune scorpions identifies the Amu Daraya River as a long-standing component of central Asian biogeography. Zoology of the Middle East. 2012;55:95-110.

Thanks to Victor Fet for sending me this paper!

No comments: