Phylogeny and biogeography of the African burrowing snake subfamily Aparallactinae (Squamata: Lamprophiidae)
Branch, William R.
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Members of the snake subfamily Aparallactinae occur in various habitats throughout sub-Saharan Africa. The monophyly of aparallactine snakes is well established, but relationships within the subfamily are poorly known. We sampled 158 individuals from six of eight aparallactine genera in sub-Saharan Africa. We employed concatenated gene-tree analyses, divergence dating approaches, and ancestral-area reconstructions to infer phylogenies and biogeographic patterns with a multi-locus data set consisting of three mitochondrial (16S, cyt b, and ND4) and two nuclear genes (c-mos and RAG1). As a result, we uncover several cryptic lineages and elevate a lineage of Polemon to full species status. Diversification occurred predominantly during the Miocene, with a few speciation events occurring subsequently in the Pliocene and Pleistocene. Biogeographic analyses suggested that the Zambezian biogeographic region, comprising grasslands and woodlands, facilitated radiations, vicariance, and dispersal for many aparallactines. Moreover, the geographic distributions of many forest species were fragmented during xeric and cooler conditions, which likely led to diversification events. Biogeographic patterns of aparallactine snakes are consistent with previous studies of other sub-Saharan herpetofauna