Recent speciation and limited phylogeographic structure in Mixophyes frogs from the Australian Wet Tropics

Anuja U. Oza*, Katharine E. Lovett, Stephen E. Williams, Craig Moritz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Through a combination of macroecological, paleoecological, and phylogeographical analyses, the rainforests of the Australian Wet Tropics (AWT) have emerged as a useful model for understanding sensitivity of species to past climatic change and, hence, for predicting vulnerability to future change. To extend the ecological breadth of comparative phylogeographic analyses, we investigate a clade of myobatrachid frogs, Mixophyes, a genus of large, stream-breeding but terrestrial frogs, three species of which are endemic to rainforests of the AWT. Here we (i) combine mtDNA, allozyme, and morphological data to refine knowledge of the geographic and environmental distribution of each taxon, (ii) resolve relationships among species, and (iii) use mtDNA phylogeography to infer responses of the three taxa to late-Pleistocene and Holocene climatic change. Each of the three species (Mixophyes carbinensis, Mixophyes coggeri, and Mixophyes schevilli) is effectively diagnosed by mtDNA, with the two small-bodied, allopatric species (M. carbinensis and M. schevilli) being sister-taxa. Mixophyes have a very different history from other AWT amphibians, with more recent speciation (net divergences <5%) and much lower and geographically unstructured mtDNA diversity within each species. The combination of low diversity (θ Π< 0.36%) and strong signals of recent population expansion (Fu's Fs < 0) suggests very high sensitivity to climate-driven rainforest dynamics, perhaps due to their large body size, low population density, and their requirement for both wet forest-floor litter and streams suitable for breeding. The results further emphasize the heterogeneity of species' responses to climate change and suggest that species dependent on multiple habitat types could be especially vulnerable.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)407-413
Number of pages7
JournalMolecular Phylogenetics and Evolution
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2012
Externally publishedYes


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