Comparative Phylogeography of Forest-Dependent Mammals Reveals Paleo-Forest Corridors throughout Sundaland
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The evolutionary history of the colugo, a gliding arboreal mammal distributed throughout Sundaland, was influenced by the location of and connections between forest habitats. By comparing colugo phylogenetic patterns, species ecology, sample distributions, and times of divergence to those of other Sundaic taxa with different life-history traits and dispersal capabilities, we inferred the probable distribution of paleo-forest corridors and their influence on observed biogeographic patterns. We identified a consistent pattern of early diversification between east and west Bornean lineages in colugos, lesser mouse deer, and Sunda pangolins, but not in greater mouse deer. This deep east-west split within Borneo has not been commonly described in mammals. Colugos on West Borneo diverged from colugos in Peninsular Malaysia and Sumatra in the late Pliocene, however most other mammalian populations distributed across these same geographic regions diverged from a common ancestor more recently in the Pleistocene. Low genetic divergence between colugos on large landmasses and their neighboring satellite islands indicated that past forest distributions were recently much larger than present refugial distributions. Our analysis of colugo evolutionary history reconstructs Borneo as the most likely ancestral area of origin for Sunda colugos, and suggests that forests present during the middle Pliocene within the Sunda Shelf were more evergreen and contiguous, while forests were more fragmented, transient, seasonal, or with lower density canopies in the Pleistocene.
author list (cited authors)
Mason, V. C., Helgen, K. M., & Murphy, W. J.