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Synchronous Diversification of Sulawesi's Iconic Artiodactyls Driven by Recent Geological Events


Synchronous Diversification of Sulawesi's Iconic Artiodactyls Driven by Recent Geological Events

Laurent A F Frantz et al. Proc Biol Sci.


The high degree of endemism on Sulawesi has previously been suggested to have vicariant origins, dating back to 40 Ma. Recent studies, however, suggest that much of Sulawesi's fauna assembled over the last 15 Myr. Here, we test the hypothesis that more recent uplift of previously submerged portions of land on Sulawesi promoted diversification and that much of its faunal assemblage is much younger than the island itself. To do so, we combined palaeogeographical reconstructions with genetic and morphometric datasets derived from Sulawesi's three largest mammals: the babirusa, anoa and Sulawesi warty pig. Our results indicate that although these species most likely colonized the area that is now Sulawesi at different times (14 Ma to 2-3 Ma), they experienced an almost synchronous expansion from the central part of the island. Geological reconstructions indicate that this area was above sea level for most of the last 4 Myr, unlike most parts of the island. We conclude that emergence of land on Sulawesi (approx. 1-2 Myr) may have allowed species to expand synchronously. Altogether, our results indicate that the establishment of the highly endemic faunal assemblage on Sulawesi was driven by geological events over the last few million years.

Keywords: Wallacea; biogeography; evolution; geology.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors have no competing interests.


Figure 1.
Figure 1.
Time to the most recent common ancestor (TMRCA) for three mammal species on Sulawesi. Posterior densities of the TMRCA estimates for anoa, babirusa and Sulawesi warty pig.
Figure 2.
Figure 2.
Population morphological variation inferred from geometric morphometric data. (a) Neighbour-joining network based on Mahalanobis distances measured from second and third lower molar shapes and visualization of population mean shape. Bab, babirusa; Sus, Sulawesi warty pig. (b) Variation of third molar size per population (log centroid size).
Figure 3.
Figure 3.
Geological maps of Sulawesi and the geographical origin of expansion. (a) Reconstruction of Sulawesi over the last 5 Myr (adapted from [39]) and potential origin of expansion of (b) anoa, (c) babirusa and (d) SWP. Red dots represent the location of the samples used for this analysis. Low correlation values (between distance and extrapolated genetic diversity; see electronic supplementary material) represent most likely origin of expansion.
Figure 4.
Figure 4.
Population structure and geographical patterning of three mammal species on Sulawesi inferred from mitochondrial and microsatellite DNA. (a) A tessellated projection of sample haplogroups in each region of endemism and phylogeny of (i) anoa, (ii) babirusa and (iii) Sulawesi warty pig. Each region is labelled with the number of samples used for the projection. The projection extends over regions with no samples (e.g. the southwest peninsula for babirusa and anoa) and the population membership affinities for these regions are, therefore, unreliable. Red and blue stars on the phylogenetic trees correspond to posterior probabilities greater than 0.9 and 0.7, respectively. (b) Tessellated projection of the STRUCTURE analysis, using the microsatellite data, for (i) anoa, (ii) babirusa and (iii) Sulawesi warty pig. The best K-value for each species was used (K = 5 for anoa; K = 6 for babirusa; K = 5 for Sulawesi warty pig; electronic supplementary material, figure S8). NE, northeast; NC, north central; NW, northwest; TO, Togian; BA, Banggai Archipelago; EC, east central; WC, west central; SU, Sula; BU, Buru; SE, southeast; SW, southwest; BT, Buton.
Figure 5.
Figure 5.
Posterior distribution of the current population size (Ne) of each species as inferred via ABC.

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Cited by 2 PubMed Central articles


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