The timing of neotropical speciation dynamics: a reconstruction of myiopagis flycatcher diversification using phylogenetic and paleogeographic data
Rheindt, FE, Christidis, L, Cabanne, GS, Miyaki, C & Norman, JA 2009, 'The timing of neotropical speciation dynamics: a reconstruction of myiopagis flycatcher diversification using phylogenetic and paleogeographic data', Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, vol. 53, no. 3, pp. 961-971.
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Neotropical forests have brought forth a large proportion of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity, but the underlying evolutionary mechanisms and their timing require further elucidation. Despite insights gained from phylogenetic studies, uncertainties about molecular clock rates have hindered efforts to determine the timing of diversification processes. Moreover, most molecular research has been detached from the extensive body of data on Neotropical geology and paleogeography. We here examine phylogenetic relationships and the timing of speciation events in a Neotropical flycatcher genus (Myiopagis) by using calibrations from modern geologic data in conjunction with a number of recently developed DNA sequence dating algorithms and by comparing these estimates with those based on a range of previously proposed molecular clock rates. We present a well-supported hypothesis of systematic relationships within the genus. Our age estimates of Myiopagis speciation events based on paleogeographic data are in close agreement with nodal ages derived from a “traditional” avian mitochondrial 2%/My clock, while contradicting other clock rates. Our comparative approach corroborates the consistency of the traditional avian mitochondrial clock rate of 2%/My for tyrant-flycatchers. Nevertheless, our results argue against the indiscriminate use of molecular clock rates in evolutionary research and advocate the verification of the appropriateness of the traditional clock rate by means of independent calibrations in individual studies.