TitleConcurrent speciation in the eastern woodland salamanders (Genus Plethodon): DNA sequences of the complete albumin nuclear and partial mitochondrial 12s genes
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsHighton, R, Hastings, AP, Palmer, C, Watts, R, Hass, CA, Culver, M, Arnold, SJ
JournalMolecular Phylogenetics and Evolution
KeywordsAlbumin DNA sequences Plethodon Speciation Taxonomy 12s mtDNA sequences geographic protein variation north-american salamanders life-history evolution phylogenetic-relationships rapid diversification cinereus group populations divergence radiation distanc

Salamanders of the North American plethodontid genus Plethodon are important model organisms in a variety of studies that depend on a phylogenetic framework (e.g., chemical communication, ecological competition, life histories, hybridization, and speciation), and consequently their systematics has been intensively investigated over several decades. Nevertheless, we lack a synthesis of relationships among the species. In the analyses reported here we use new DNA sequence data from the complete nuclear albumin gene (1818 bp) and the 12s mitochondrial gene (355 bp), as well as published data for four other genes (Wiens et al., 2006), up to a total of 6989 bp, to infer relationships. We relate these results to past systematic work based on morphology, allozymes, and DNA sequences. Although basal relationships show a strong consensus across studies, many terminal relationships remain in flux despite substantial sequencing and other molecular and morphological studies. This systematic instability appears to be a consequence of contemporaneous bursts of speciation in the late Miocene and Pliocene, yielding many closely related extant species in each of the four eastern species groups. Therefore we conclude that many relationships are likely to remain poorly resolved in the face of additional sequencing efforts. On the other hand, the current classification of the 45 eastern species into four species groups is supported. The Plethodon cinereus group (10 species) is the sister group to the clade comprising the other three groups, but these latter groups (Plethodon glutinosus [28 species], Plethodon welleri [5 species], and Plethodon wehrlei [2 species]) probably diverged from each other at approximately the same time. (C) 2012 Published by Elsevier Inc.