Phylogeography of the Chihuahuan Desert: Diversification and Evolution Over the Pleistocene

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Phylogeography of the Chihuahuan Desert: Diversification and Evolution Over the Pleistocene

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Title: Phylogeography of the Chihuahuan Desert: Diversification and Evolution Over the Pleistocene
Author: Scheinvar, E., Gámez, N., Moreno-Letelier, A., Aguirre-Planter, E. & Eguiarte, L. E.
Abstract: The Chihuahuan desert is the largest and most diverse arid desert in North America. Geological and climatic events of the Miocene–Pliocene, as well as the climatic cyclical changes of the Pleistocene, had an important effect on the diversity patterns of the species in this desert. Several areas of the Chihuahuan desert have been identified as “refuges” in which the arid biota survived or thrived during the complex Pleistocene climate changes, including Cuatro Ciénegas, and Mapimian valleys, among other areas. We analyzed bibliographic genetic structure information from plant and animal species of the Chihuahuan desert, using the data to explore for general phylogeographic patterns. Our hypothesis was that the recent history of the genetic diversity currently observed could be interpreted in terms of the effects of large-scale geological and climatic events that occurred during Miocene/Pliocene. We analyzed 24 studies, 9 involving plants (Agave lechuguilla, A. striata, A. stricta, A. victoria-reginae, Astrophytum spp., Berberis trifoliate, Ephedra compacta, Leucophyllum spp., Larrea tridentata), and the rest involving animals. We detected three main patterns: (1) An ancient differentiation of the North of the Chihuahuan desert in the Cochise filter barrier area, within the Late Miocene (~11.6–5.3 MY), supported by three species; (2) A North/South differentiation from the Chihuahuan desert into the Altiplano Norte and Altiplano Sur, broadly congruent with the Pliocene (~5.3–2.5 MY) supported by seven species; (3) A divergence congruent with the Pleistocene (~2.5 MY), involving recent events within lineages. Another commonly detected pattern is an East/West differentiation. The current genetic differentiation patterns of the Chihuahuan desert species can be explained, at least in part, in terms of Pleistocene climate dynamics along an altitudinal and latitudinal gradient of locally adapted populations that underwent cyclic processes of contraction, isolation, and divergence, followed by expansion and secondary contact.
URI: http://10.0.0.98/xmlui/handle/1/2226
Date: 2020

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Observatorio Ambiental de El Colegio de Chihuahua (COLECH)
Biblioteca Virtual Ambiental del Estado de Chihuahua (BVA)
Correo electrónico: bva@colech.edu.mx

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