Phylogeography of a successful aerial disperser: the golden orb spider Nephila on Indian Ocean islands.
ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: The origin and diversification patterns of lineages across the Indian Ocean islands are varied due to the interplay of the complex geographic and geologic island histories, the varying dispersal abilities of biotas, and the proximity to major continental landmasses. Our aim was to reconstruct phylogeographic history of the giant orbweaving spider (Nephila) on western Indian Ocean islands (Madagascar, Mayotte, Réunion, Mauritius, Rodrigues), to test its origin and route of dispersal, and to examine the consequences of good dispersal abilities for colonization and diversification, in comparison with related spiders (Nephilengys) inhabiting the same islands, and with other organisms known for over water dispersal. We used mitochondrial (COI) and nuclear (ITS2) markers to examine phylogenetic and population genetic patterns in Nephila populations and species. We employed Bayesian and parsimony methods to reconstruct phylogenies and haplotype networks, respectively, and calculated genetic distances, fixation indices, and estimated clade ages under a relaxed clock model. RESULTS: Our results suggest an African origin of Madagascar Nephila inaurata populations via Cenozoic dispersal, and the colonization of the Mascarene islands from Madagascar. We find evidence of gene flow across Madagascar and Comoros. The Mascarene islands share a common 'ancestral' COI haplotype closely related to those found on Madagascar, but itself absent, or as yet unsampled, from Madagascar. Each island has one or more unique haplotypes related to the ancestral Mascarene haplotype. The Indian Ocean N. inaurata are genetically distinct from the African populations. CONCLUSIONS: Nephila spiders colonized Madagascar from Africa about 2.5 (0.6-5.3) Ma. Our results are consistent with subsequent, recent and rapid, colonization of all three Mascarene islands. On each island, however, we detected unique haplotypes, consistent with a limited gene flow among the islands subsequent to colonization, a scenario that might be referred to as speciation in progress. However, due to relatively small sample sizes, we cannot rule out that we simply failed to collect Mascarene haplotypes on Madagascar, a scenario that might imply human mediated dispersal. Nonetheless, the former interpretation better fits the available data and results in a pattern similar to the related Nephilengys. Nephilengys, however, shows higher genetic divergences with diversification on more remote islands. That the better disperser of the two lineages, Nephila, has colonized more islands but failed to diversify, demonstrates how dispersal ability can shape both the patterns of colonization and formation of species across archipelagos.
Project description:BACKGROUND:The island of Madagascar and surrounding volcanic and coralline islands are considered to form a biodiversity hotspot with large numbers of unique taxa. The origin of this endemic fauna can be explained by two different factors: vicariance or over-water-dispersal. Deciphering which factor explains the current distributional pattern of a given taxonomic group requires robust phylogenies as well as estimates of divergence times. The lineage of Indian Ocean scops-owls (Otus: Strigidae) includes six or seven species that are endemic to Madagascar and portions of the Comoros and Seychelles archipelagos; little is known about the species limits, biogeographic affinities and relationships to each other. In the present study, using DNA sequence data gathered from six loci, we examine the biogeographic history of the Indian Ocean scops-owls. We also compare the pattern and timing of colonization of the Indian Ocean islands by scops-owls with divergence times already proposed for other bird taxa. RESULTS:Our analyses revealed that Indian Ocean islands scops-owls do not form a monophyletic assemblage: the Seychelles Otus insularis is genetically closer to the South-East Asian endemic O. sunia than to species from the Comoros and Madagascar. The Pemba Scops-owls O. pembaensis, often considered closely related to, if not conspecific with O. rutilus of Madagascar, is instead closely related to the African mainland O. senegalensis. Relationships among the Indian Ocean taxa from the Comoros and Madagascar are unresolved, despite the analysis of over 4000 bp, suggesting a diversification burst after the initial colonization event. We also highlight one case of putative back-colonization to the Asian mainland from an island ancestor (O. sunia). Our divergence date estimates, using a Bayesian relaxed clock method, suggest that all these events occurred during the last 3.6 myr; albeit colonization of the Indian Ocean islands were not synchronous, O. pembaensis diverged from O. senegalensis about 1.7 mya while species from Madagascar and the Comoro diverged from their continental sister-group about 3.6 mya. We highlight that our estimates coincide with estimates of diversification from other bird lineages. CONCLUSION:Our analyses revealed the occurrence of multiple synchronous colonization events of the Indian Ocean islands by scops-owls, at a time when faunistic exchanges involving Madagascar was common as a result of lowered sea-level that would have allowed the formation of stepping-stone islands. Patterns of diversification that emerged from the scops-owls data are: 1) a star-like pattern concerning the order of colonization of the Indian Ocean islands and 2) the high genetic distinctiveness among all Indian Ocean taxa, reinforcing their recognition as distinct species.
Project description:Madagascar is surrounded by archipelagos varying widely in origin, age and structure. Although small and geologically young, these archipelagos have accumulated disproportionate numbers of unique lineages in comparison to Madagascar, highlighting the role of waif-dispersal and rapid in situ diversification processes in generating endemic biodiversity. We reconstruct the evolutionary and biogeographical history of the genus Psiadia (Asteraceae), a plant genus with near equal numbers of species in Madagascar and surrounding islands. Analyzing patterns and processes of diversification, we explain species accumulation on peripheral islands and aim to offer new insights on the origin and potential causes for diversification in the Madagascar and Indian Ocean Islands biodiversity hotspot. Our results provide support for an African origin of the group, with strong support for non-monophyly. Colonization of the Mascarenes took place by two evolutionary distinct lineages from Madagascar, via two independent dispersal events, each unique for their spatial and temporal properties. Significant shifts in diversification rate followed regional expansion, resulting in co-occurring and phenotypically convergent species on high-elevation volcanic slopes. Like other endemic island lineages, Psiadia have been highly successful in dispersing to and radiating on isolated oceanic islands, typified by high habitat diversity and dynamic ecosystems fuelled by continued geological activity. Results stress the important biogeographical role for Rodrigues in serving as an outlying stepping stone from which regional colonization took place. We discuss how isolated volcanic islands contribute to regional diversity by generating substantial numbers of endemic species on short temporal scales. Factors pertaining to the mode and tempo of archipelago formation and its geographical isolation strongly govern evolutionary pathways available for species diversification, and the potential for successful diversification of dispersed lineages, therefore, appears highly dependent on the timing of arrival, as habitat and resource properties change dramatically over the course of oceanic island evolution.
Project description:BACKGROUND AND AIMS: The coffee genus (Coffea) comprises 124 species, and is indigenous to the Old World Tropics. Due to its immense economic importance, Coffea has been the focus of numerous genetic diversity studies, but despite this effort it remains insufficiently studied. In this study the genetic diversity and genetic structure of Coffea across Africa and the Indian Ocean islands is investigated. METHODS: Genetic data were produced using 13 polymorphic nuclear microsatellite markers (simple sequence repeats, SSRs), including seven expressed sequence tag-SSRs, and the data were analysed using model- and non-model-based methods. The study includes a total of 728 individuals from 60 species. KEY RESULTS: Across Africa and the Indian Ocean islands Coffea comprises a closely related group of species with an overall pattern of genotypes running from west to east. Genetic structure was identified in accordance with pre-determined geographical regions and phylogenetic groups. There is a good relationship between morpho-taxonomic species delimitations and genetic units. Genetic diversity in African and Indian Ocean Coffea is high in terms of number of alleles detected, and Madagascar appears to represent a place of significant diversification in terms of allelic richness and species diversity. CONCLUSIONS: Cross-species SSR transferability in African and Indian Ocean islands Coffea was very efficient. On the basis of the number of private alleles, diversification in East Africa and the Indian Ocean islands appears to be more recent than in West and West-Central Africa, although this general trend is complicated in Africa by the position of species belonging to lineages connecting the main geographical regions. The general pattern of phylogeography is not in agreement with an overall east to west (Mascarene, Madagascar, East Africa, West Africa) increase in genome size, the high proportion of shared alleles between the four regions or the high numbers of exclusive shared alleles between pairs or triplets of regions.
Project description:This work presents a critical nomenclatural review of the Acalypha species of the Western Indian Ocean Region (Madagascar, the Comoros Archipelago, the Mascarene Islands and the Seychelles Archipelago). This is the first treatment of Acalypha of Madagascar since Leandri's monograph in 1942. A total of 151 scientific names related to Acalypha from this region are treated. We recognise 35 species (28 native and seven introduced), treat 93 names as synonyms (28 of them for the first time) and identify three as doubtful or excluded names. We designate lectotypes for 41 names, make two new combinations and propose one new name.
Project description:PREMISE OF THE STUDY:Polymorphic markers were required for a native tree of the Mascarene Islands, Foetidia mauritiana (Lecythidaceae), to investigate the effects of fragmentation of lowland tropical habitats on tree mating systems and on gene flow. METHODS AND RESULTS:Using microsatellite enrichment and next-generation sequencing, we identified 13 microsatellite loci (dinucleotide repeats). They were highly polymorphic in 121 trees sampled in the largest three populations on Réunion, revealing 2-17 different alleles per locus. Furthermore, they were found to be polymorphic in conspecific populations on Mauritius and in F. rodriguesiana from Rodrigues. CONCLUSIONS:These results indicate the utility of these markers to investigate genetic diversity, mating systems, and gene flow in a genus native to the biodiversity hotspot of Madagascar and the Indian Ocean islands.
Project description:Madagascar and the Mascarene Islands of Mauritius and Rodrigues underwent catastrophic ecological and landscape transformations, which virtually eliminated their entire endemic vertebrate megafauna during the past millennium. These ecosystem changes have been alternately attributed to either human activities, climate change, or both, but parsing their relative importance, particularly in the case of Madagascar, has proven difficult. Here, we present a multimillennial (approximately the past 8000 years) reconstruction of the southwest Indian Ocean hydroclimate variability using speleothems from the island of Rodrigues, located ?1600 km east of Madagascar. The record shows a recurring pattern of hydroclimate variability characterized by submillennial-scale drying trends, which were punctuated by decadal-to-multidecadal megadroughts, including during the late Holocene. Our data imply that the megafauna of the Mascarenes and Madagascar were resilient, enduring repeated past episodes of severe climate stress, but collapsed when a major increase in human activity occurred in the context of a prominent drying trend.
Project description:The South West Indian Ocean (SWIO) archipelagos and Madagascar constitute a hotspot of biodiversity with a high rate of endemism. In this area, the endemic subspecies A. m. unicolor has been described in Madagascar. It belongs to the African lineage, one of the four described evolutionary lineages in honey bees. Despite a long beekeeping tradition and several recorded European introductions, few studies have been carried out on the diversity and proportion of honey bee subspecies. In order to identify and define which evolutionary lineages and potential sub-lineages are present in the SWIO, the COI-COII intergenic region and the ND2 gene of the mtDNA were sequenced in honey bee colonies from three archipelagos. An extensive sampling (n = 1184 colonies) was done in the Mascarene (La Réunion, Mauritius, Rodrigues), Seychelles (Mahé, Praslin, La Digue) and Comoros (Grande Comore, Mohéli, Anjouan, Mayotte) archipelagos. Islands genetic diversity was compared to newly sampled populations from Madagascar, continental African and European populations.African lineage haplotypes were found in all islands (except for Rodrigues). Madagascar, Comoros and Seychelles had 100% of A lineage, 95.5% in La Réunion and 56.1% in Mauritius. Among all African colonies detected in the SWIO, 98.1% (n = 633) of COI-COII haplotypes described the presence of the subspecies A. M. unicolor. Both genetic markers revealed i) a new private AI mitochondrial group shared by the SWIO archipelagos and Madagascar distant from continental populations; ii) the private African haplotypes for each island suggested diversity radiation in the archipelagos; iii) the detection of the Comoros archipelago as a possible contact area between insular and continental African populations. The exotic European C and M lineages were only detected in the Mascarene archipelago, but striking differences of proportion were observed among islands. Merely 4.6% of European colonies were found in La Réunion whereas Mauritius cumulated 44%. Here, among the 84 observed COI-COII haplotypes, 50 were newly described including 13 which were private to the SWIO archipelagos and Madagascar. Similarly, 24 of the 34 found ND2 haplotypes were novel which included six haplotypes particular to the SWIO populations.A new African subgroup was described in the SWIO region with mitochondrial genetic evidence that A. m. unicolor is the indigenous subspecies of the archipelagos surrounding Madagascar.
Project description:Amphibians are thought to be unable to disperse over ocean barriers because they do not tolerate the osmotic stress of salt water. Their distribution patterns have therefore generally been explained by vicariance biogeography. Here, we present compelling evidence for overseas dispersal of frogs in the Indian Ocean region based on the discovery of two endemic species on Mayotte. This island belongs to the Comoro archipelago, which is entirely volcanic and surrounded by sea depths of more than 3500 m. This constitutes the first observation of endemic amphibians on oceanic islands that did not have any past physical contact to other land masses. The two species of frogs had previously been thought to be nonendemic and introduced from Madagascar, but clearly represent new species based on their morphological and genetic differentiation. They belong to the genera Mantidactylus and Boophis in the family Mantellidae that is otherwise restricted to Madagascar, and are distinguished by morphology and mitochondrial and nuclear DNA sequences from mantellid species occurring in Madagascar. This discovery permits us to update and test molecular clocks for frogs distributed in this region. The new calibrations are in agreement with previous rate estimates and indicate two further Cenozoic transmarine dispersal events that had previously been interpreted as vicariance: hyperoliid frogs from Africa to Madagascar (Heterixalus) and from Madagascar to the Seychelles islands (Tachycnemis). Our results provide the strongest evidence so far that overseas dispersal of amphibians exists and is no rare exception, although vicariance certainly retains much of its importance in explaining amphibian biogeography.
Project description:Ancient mitochondrial DNA sequences were used for investigating the evolution of an entire clade of extinct vertebrates, the endemic tortoises (Cylindraspis) of the Mascarene Islands in the Indian Ocean. Mitochondrial DNA corroborates morphological evidence that there were five species of tortoise with the following relationships: Cylindraspis triserrata ((Cylindraspis vosmaeri and Cylindraspis peltastes) (Cylindraspis inepta and Cylindraspis indica)). Phylogeny indicates that the ancestor of the group first colonized Mauritius where speciation produced C. triserrata and the ancestor of the other species including a second sympatric Mauritian form, C. inepta. A propagule derived from this lineage colonized Rodrigues 590 km to the east, where a second within-island speciation took place producing the sympatric C. vosmaeri and C. peltastes. A recent colonization of Réunion 150 km to the southwest produced C. indica. In the virtual absence of predators, the defensive features of the shells of Mascarene tortoises were largely dismantled, apparently in two stages. 'Saddlebacked' shells with high fronts evolved independently on all three islands. This and other features, such as a derived jaw structure and small body size, may be associated with niche differentiation in sympatric species and may represent a striking example of parallel differentiation in a large terrestrial vertebrate. The history of Mascarene tortoises contrasts with that of the Galápagos, where only a single species is present and surviving populations are genetically much more similar. However, they too show some reduction in anti-predator mechanisms and multiple development of populations with saddlebacked shells.
Project description:Madagascar and the Seychelles are Gondwanan remnants currently isolated in the Indian Ocean. In the Late Cretaceous, these islands were joined with India to form the Indigascar landmass, which itself then split into its three component parts around the start of the Tertiary. This history is reflected in the biota of the Seychelles, which appears to contain examples of both vicariance- and dispersal-mediated divergence from Malagasy or Indian sister taxa. One lineage for which this has been assumed but never thoroughly tested is the Seychellean tiger chameleon, a species assigned to the otherwise Madagascar-endemic genus Calumma. We present a multi-locus phylogenetic study of chameleons, and find that the Seychellean species is actually the sister taxon of a southern African clade and requires accomodation in its own genus as Archaius tigris. Divergence dating and biogeographic analyses indicate an origin by transoceanic dispersal from Africa to the Seychelles in the Eocene-Oligocene, providing, to our knowledge, the first such well-documented example and supporting novel palaeocurrent reconstructions.