Ecological Niche Conservatism and Pleistocene Refugia in the Thrush-like Mourner, Schiffornis Sp., in the Neotropics

Evolution. 2008 Jan;62(1):173-83. doi: 10.1111/j.1558-5646.2007.00258.x. Epub 2007 Nov 12.


Recent studies have increasingly implicated deep (pre-Pleistocene) events as key in the vertebrate speciation, downplaying the importance of more recent (Pleistocene) climatic shifts. This work, however, has been based almost exclusively on evidence from molecular clock inferences of splitting dates. We present an independent perspective on this question, using ecological niche model reconstructions of Pleistocene Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) potential distributions for the Thrush-like Mourner (Schiffornis turdina) complex in the neotropics. LGM distributional patterns reconstructed from the niche models relate significantly to phylogroups identified in previous molecular systematic analyses. As such, patterns of differentiation and speciation in this complex are consistent with Pleistocene climate and geography, although further testing will be necessary to establish dates of origin firmly and unambiguously.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Birds / genetics*
  • Central America
  • Ecosystem*
  • Genetic Speciation
  • Models, Biological
  • Population
  • South America