Southeast Asia's widespread species offer unique opportunities to explore the effects of geographical barriers to dispersal on patterns of vertebrate lineage diversification. We analyzed mitochondrial gene sequences (16S rDNA) from a geographically widespread sample of 266 Southeast Asian tree frogs, including 244 individuals of Polypedates leucomystax and its close relatives. Our expectation was that lineages on island archipelagos would exhibit more substantial geographic structure, corresponding to the geological history of terrestrial connectivity in this region, compared to the Asian mainland. Contrary to predictions, we found evidence of numerous highly divergent lineages from a limited area on the Asian mainland, but fewer lineages with shallower divergences throughout oceanic islands of the Philippines and Indonesia. Surprisingly and in numerous instances, lineages in the archipelagos span distinct biogeographical provinces. Phylogeographic analyses identified four major haplotype clades; summary statistics, mismatch distributions, and Bayesian coalescent inference of demography provide support for recent range expansion, population growth, and/or admixture in the Philippine and some Sulawesi populations. We speculate that the current range of P. leucomystax in Southeast Asia is much larger now than in the recent past. Conversion of forested areas to monoculture agriculture and transportation of agricultural products between islands may have facilitated unprecedented population and range expansion in P. leucomystax throughout thousands of islands in the Philippine and Indonesian archipelagos.
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