Biogeography and spatio-temporal diversification of Selenidera and Andigena toucans (Aves: Ramphastidae)

Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2013 Dec;69(3):873-83. doi: 10.1016/j.ympev.2013.06.017. Epub 2013 Jul 2.


Andean uplift, Plio-Pleistocene climatic fluctuation, and river dynamics in the Amazon basin have all been implicated in the diversification of the South American avifauna. We reconstructed phylogenetic relationships in the genus Selenidera, which has served as a classic case of putative refugial speciation, and the closely related genus Andigena, to better understand the processes driving their diversification. Using mitochondrial and nuclear DNA sequences, we constructed a phylogeny to estimate the pattern and timing of divergence within and between seven lowland Selenidera toucanets and the five species of Andigena mountain-toucans, which together form a single clade. All phylogenetic analyses supported the monophyly of the montane genus Andigena, but indicated that the genus Selenidera is likely paraphyletic with respect to Andigena. Our time tree analysis is consistent with the orogenic uplift of the northern Andean range having initiated the divergence between Selenidera and Andigena, and that the movement and fragmentation of montane habitats in response to Pleistocene climatic oscillations likely influenced diversification within Andigena. Estimated divergence times for lowland Amazonian Selenidera did not support the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) refuge hypothesis as an important biogeographic factor for the diversification of lineages studied here. The timing of divergence within Selenidera is consistent with the hypothesis that geographic isolation of areas of endemism generated by Amazonian river dynamics during the Plio-Pleistocene contributed to Selenidera speciation and current species distributions.

Keywords: Amazon; Andean uplift; Andigena; Pleistocene refugia; Selenidera.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bayes Theorem
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Birds / classification*
  • Birds / genetics
  • Cell Nucleus / genetics
  • Climate Change
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / genetics
  • Likelihood Functions
  • Models, Genetic
  • Phylogeny*
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • South America


  • DNA, Mitochondrial