ABSTRACT: Late Neogene aridification in the Southern Hemisphere caused contractions of mesic biota to refugia, similar to the patterns established by glaciation in the Northern Hemisphere, but these episodes also opened up new adaptive zones that spurred range expansion and diversification in arid-adapted lineages. To understand these dynamics, we present a multilocus (nine nuclear introns, one mitochondrial gene) phylogeographic analysis of the Bynoe's gecko (Heteronotia binoei), a widely distributed complex spanning the tropical monsoon, coastal woodland, and arid zone biomes in Australia. Bayesian phylogenetic analyses, estimates of divergence times, and demographic inferences revealed episodes of diversification in the Pliocene, especially in the tropical monsoon biome, and range expansions in the Pleistocene. Ancestral habitat reconstructions strongly support recent and independent invasions into the arid zone. Our study demonstrates the varied responses to aridification in Australia, including localized persistence of lineages in the tropical monsoonal biome, and repeated invasion of and expansion through newly available arid-zone habitats. These patterns are consistent with those found in other arid environments in the Southern Hemisphere, including the South African succulent karoo and the Chilean lowlands, and highlight the diverse modes of diversification and persistence of Earth's biota during the glacial cycles of the Pliocene and Pleistocene.
Evolution 03/2010; 64(8):2293-314. · 5.15 Impact Factor