Combined next-generation sequencing and morphology reveal fine-scale speciation in Crocodile Skinks (Squamata: Scincidae: Tribolonotus)

Eric N. Rittmeyer*, Christopher C. Austin

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    18 Citations (Scopus)


    Next-generation sequencing has vast potential to revolutionize the fields of phylogenetics and population genetics through its ability to collect genomic scale data sets of thousands of orthologous loci. Despite this potential, other types of data (e.g. morphology, ecology) remain important, particularly for studies endeavouring to delimit species. Here, we integrate next-generation sequencing with morphology to examine divergence between populations of Tribolonotus pseudoponceleti on the islands of Buka and Bougainville in the Solomon Archipelago. We used the Ion Torrent PGM to collect over 648 Mbp of sequence data for 12 samples, representing 1526 loci recovered from all samples, and 3342 were recovered from at least six samples. Genetic structure analyses strongly support the distinctiveness of these two populations, and Bayes factor delimitations decisively select speciation between Buka and Bougainville. Principal components and discriminant function analyses reveal concordant morphological divergence. Finally, demographic analyses via diffusion approximation and approximate Bayesian computation prefer a complex model of mid-Pleistocene divergence with migration, and a later decrease or cessation of migration and population size shift, suggesting a scenario in which migration was enabled by Pleistocene merging of these two islands, and limited when isolated by higher sea levels. Further analysis of four Sanger sequenced loci in IMa2 had limited power to distinguish among models including and excluding migration, but resulted in similar population size and divergence time estimates, although with much broader confidence intervals. This study represents a framework for how next-generation sequencing and morphological data can be combined and leveraged towards validating putative species and testing demographic scenarios for speciation.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)466-483
    Number of pages18
    JournalMolecular Ecology
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015


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