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Type: Journal article
Title: Multi-locus sequence data illuminate demographic drivers of Pleistocene speciation in semi-arid southern Australian birds (Cinclosoma spp.)
Author: Dolman, G.
Joseph, L.
Citation: BMC Evolutionary Biology, 2016; 16(1):226-1-226-14
Publisher: BioMed Central
Issue Date: 2016
ISSN: 1471-2148
Statement of
Gaynor Dolman and Leo Joseph
Abstract: Background: During the Pleistocene, shifts of species distributions and their isolation in disjunct refugia led to varied outcomes in how taxa diversified. Some species diverged, others did not. Here, we begin to address another facet of the role of the Pleistocene in generating today's diversity. We ask which processes contributed to divergence in semi-arid southern Australian birds. We isolated 11 autosomal nuclear loci and one mitochondrial locus from a total of 29 specimens of the sister species pair, Chestnut Quail-thrush Cinclosoma castanotum and Copperback Quail-thrush C. clarum. results: A population clustering analysis confirmed the location of the current species boundary as a well-known biogeographical barrier in southern Australia, the Eyrean Barrier. Coalescent-based analyses placed the time of species divergence to the Middle Pleistocene. Gene flow between the species since divergence has been low. The analyses suggest the effective population size of the ancestor was 54 to 178 times smaller than populations since divergence. This contrasts with recent multi-locus studies in some other Australian birds (butcherbirds, ducks) where a lack of phenotypic divergence was accompanied by larger historical population sizes. Post-divergence population size histories of C. clarum and C. castanotum were inferred using the extended Bayesian skyline model. The population size of C. clarum increased substantially during the late Pleistocene and continued to increase through the Last Glacial Maximum and Holocene. The timing of this expansion across its vast range is broadly concordant with that documented in several other Australian birds. In contrast, effective population size of C. castanotum was much more constrained and may reflect its smaller range and more restricted habitat east of the Eyrean Barrier compared with that available to C. clarum to the west. Conclusions: Our results contribute to awareness of increased population sizes, following significant contractions, as having been important in shaping diversity in Australian arid and semi-arid zones. Further, we improve knowledge of the role of Pleistocene climatic shifts in areas of the planet that were not glaciated at that time but which still experienced that period's cyclical climatic fluctuations.
Keywords: Australian birds; Coalescence; Demographic history; Eyrean Barrier; Phylogeography; Semi-arid; Southern Australian biogeography; Speciation
Rights: © The Author(s). 2016 Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.
RMID: 0030066441
DOI: 10.1186/s12862-016-0798-6
Appears in Collections:Environment Institute Leaders publications

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