New paper on chipmunks published in Systematic Biology!

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least chipmunk (tamias minimus) - wyoming, medicine bow mountains

Our latest paper documenting extensive hybridization among multiple species of western North American chipmunks!

Go here to check it out in Systematic Biology

Phylogeny Estimation of the Radiation of Western North American Chipmunks (Tamias) in the Face of Introgression Using Reproductive Protein Genes

The causes and consequences of rapid radiations are major unresolved issues in evolutionary biology. This is in part because phylogeny estimation is confounded by processes such as stochastic lineage sorting and hybridization. Because these processes are expected to be heterogeneous across the genome, comparison among marker classes may provide a means of disentangling these elements. Here we use introns from nuclear-encoded reproductive protein genes expected to be resistant to introgression to estimate the phylogeny of the western chipmunks (Tamias: subgenus: Neotamias), a rapid radiation that has experienced introgressive hybridization of mitochondrial DNA. We analyze the nuclear loci using coalescent-based species-tree estimation methods and concatenation to estimate a species tree and we use parametric bootstraps and coalescent simulations to differentiate between phylogenetic error, coalescent stochasticity and introgressive hybridization. Results indicate that the mitochondrial DNA gene tree reflects several introgression events that have occurred between taxa of varying levels of divergence and at different time points in the tree. T. panamintinus and T. speciosus appear to be fixed for ancient mitochondrial introgressions from T. minimus. A southern Rocky Mountains clade appears well-sorted(i.e., species are largely monophyletic) at multiple nuclear loci, while 5 of 6 taxa are non-monophyletic based on Cytb. Our simulations reject phylogenetic error and coalescent stochasticity as causes. The results represent an advance in our understanding of the processes at work during the radiation of Tamiasand suggest that sampling reproductive-protein genes may be viable strategy for phylogeny estimation of rapid radiations in which reproductive isolation is incomplete. However, a genome-scale survey that can statistically compare heterogeneity of genealogical process at many more loci will be necessary to test this conclusion.

Supported by the National Science Foundation.

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