Andean uplift promotes lowland speciation through vicariance and dispersal in Dendrocincla woodcreepers

Mol Ecol. 2011 Nov;20(21):4550-63. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-294X.2011.05294.x. Epub 2011 Oct 10.


Andean uplift contributed importantly to the build-up of high Neotropical diversity. Final uplift of the Eastern Cordillera of Colombia separated once-contiguous lowland faunas east and west of the Andes between 5 and 3.5 million years ago (Ma hereafter). We used DNA sequences from several moderate- to fast-evolving mitochondrial and two slow-evolving nuclear genes to generate a well-supported phylogeny of Dendrocincla woodcreepers, a genus with multiple species endemic to lowland regions both east and west of the Andes. A time-calibrated phylogeny and dispersal-vicariance analysis indicated that uplift of the Eastern Cordillera of Colombia resulted in the initial vicariant separation of a widespread lowland form east and west of the Andes at c. 3.6 Ma. This was followed by two separate east-to-west dispersal events over or around the completed Andes, each producing a genetically distinct lineage. Our analysis suggests that Andean uplift promoted the build-up of biodiversity in lowland Neotropical faunas both through vicariance-based speciation during uplift and through dispersal-based speciation following uplift. In contrast to the multiple colonizations of the trans-Andean region by Dendrocincla, the Atlantic Forest was colonized from the Amazon only once, followed by in situ diversification.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biodiversity
  • Colombia
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / genetics
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / physiology
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Genetic Speciation
  • Passeriformes / classification*
  • Passeriformes / genetics*
  • Phylogeny*


  • DNA, Mitochondrial