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      Insights into the origin and distribution of biodiversity in the Brazilian Atlantic forest hot spot: a statistical phylogeographic study using a low-dispersal organism.

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          Abstract

          The relative importance of the processes that generate and maintain biodiversity is a major and controversial topic in evolutionary biology with large implications for conservation management. The Atlantic Forest of Brazil, one of the world's richest biodiversity hot spots, is severely damaged by human activities. To formulate an efficient conservation policy, a good understanding of spatial and temporal biodiversity patterns and their underlying evolutionary mechanisms is required. With this aim, we performed a comprehensive phylogeographic study using a low-dispersal organism, the land planarian species Cephaloflexa bergi (Platyhelminthes, Tricladida). Analysing multi-locus DNA sequence variation under the Approximate Bayesian Computation framework, we evaluated two scenarios proposed to explain the diversity of Southern Atlantic Forest (SAF) region. We found that most sampled localities harbour high levels of genetic diversity, with lineages sharing common ancestors that predate the Pleistocene. Remarkably, we detected the molecular hallmark of the isolation-by-distance effect and little evidence of a recent colonization of SAF localities; nevertheless, some populations might result from very recent secondary contacts. We conclude that extant SAF biodiversity originated and has been shaped by complex interactions between ancient geological events and more recent evolutionary processes, whereas Pleistocene climate changes had a minor influence in generating present-day diversity. We also demonstrate that land planarians are an advantageous biological model for making phylogeographic and, particularly, fine-scale evolutionary inferences, and propose appropriate conservation policies.

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          Author and article information

          Journal
          Heredity (Edinb)
          Heredity
          1365-2540
          0018-067X
          Jun 2014
          : 112
          : 6
          Affiliations
          [1 ] Departament de Genètica and Institut de Recerca de la Biodiversitat (IRBio), Universitat de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain.
          [2 ] Laboratório de Ecologia e Evolução, Escola de Artes, Ciências e Humanidades, Universidade de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil.
          Article
          hdy20143
          10.1038/hdy.2014.3
          24549112

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