Molecular phylogenetics and historical biogeography amid shifting continents in the cockles and giant clams (Bivalvia: Cardiidae)

Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2015 Dec;93:94-106. doi: 10.1016/j.ympev.2015.07.013. Epub 2015 Jul 30.


Reconstructing historical biogeography of the marine realm is complicated by indistinct barriers and, over deeper time scales, a dynamic landscape shaped by plate tectonics. Here we present the most extensive examination of model-based historical biogeography among marine invertebrates to date. We conducted the largest phylogenetic and molecular clock analyses to date for the bivalve family Cardiidae (cockles and giant clams) with three unlinked loci for 110 species representing 37 of the 50 genera. Ancestral ranges were reconstructed using the dispersal-extinction-cladogenesis (DEC) method with a time-stratified paleogeographic model wherein dispersal rates varied with shifting tectonics. Results were compared to previous classifications and the extensive paleontological record. Six of the eight prior subfamily groupings were found to be para- or polyphyletic. Cardiidae originated and subsequently diversified in the tropical Indo-Pacific starting in the Late Triassic. Eastern Atlantic species were mainly derived from the tropical Indo-Mediterranean region via the Tethys Sea. In contrast, the western Atlantic fauna was derived from Indo-Pacific clades. Our phylogenetic results demonstrated greater concordance with geography than did previous phylogenies based on morphology. Time-stratifying the DEC reconstruction improved the fit and was highly consistent with paleo-ocean currents and paleogeography. Lastly, combining molecular phylogenetics with a rich and well-documented fossil record allowed us to test the accuracy and precision of biogeographic range reconstructions.

Keywords: Bayesian; Biodiversity; Dispersal–extinction–cladogenesis; Fossil; Marine; Mollusca.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calibration
  • Cardiidae / genetics*
  • Likelihood Functions
  • Phylogeny*
  • Phylogeography*
  • Time Factors