Evaluating mechanisms of diversification in a Guineo-Congolian tropical forest frog using demographic model selection
Portik, Daniel M.
Leache, Adam D.
Barej, Michael F.
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The accumulation of biodiversity in tropical forests can occur through multiple allopatric and parapatric models of diversification, including forest refugia, riverine barriers and ecological gradients. Considerable debate surrounds the major diversification process, particularly in the West African Lower Guinea forests, which contain a complex geographic arrangement of topographic features and historical refugia. We used genomic data to investigate alternative mechanisms of diversification in the Gaboon forest frog, Scotobleps gabonicus, by first identifying population structure and then performing demographic model selection and spatially explicit analyses. We found that a majority of population divergences are best explained by allopatric models consistent with the forest refugia hypothesis and involve divergence in isolation with subsequent expansion and gene flow. These population divergences occurred simultaneously and conform to predictions based on climatically stable regions inferred through ecological niche modelling. Although forest refugia played a prominent role in the intraspecific diversification of S. gabonicus, we also find evidence for potential interactions between landscape features and historical refugia, including major rivers and elevational barriers such as the Cameroonian Volcanic Line. We outline the advantages of using genomewide variation in a model-testing framework to distinguish between alternative allopatric hypotheses, and the pitfalls of limited geographic and molecular sampling. Although phylogeographic patterns are often species-specific and related to life-history traits, additional comparative studies incorporating genomic data are necessary for separating shared historical processes from idiosyncratic responses to environmental, climatic and geological influences on diversification