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      Ecology Driving Genetic Variation: A Comparative Phylogeography of Jungle Cat ( Felis chaus) and Leopard Cat ( Prionailurus bengalensis) in India


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          Comparative phylogeography links historical population processes to current/ecological processes through congruent/incongruent patterns of genetic variation among species/lineages. Despite high biodiversity, India lacks a phylogeographic paradigm due to limited comparative studies. We compared the phylogenetic patterns of Indian populations of jungle cat ( Felis chaus) and leopard cat ( Prionailurus bengalensis). Given similarities in their distribution within India, evolutionary histories, body size and habits, congruent patterns of genetic variation were expected.

          Methodology/Principal Findings

          We collected scats from various biogeographic zones in India and analyzed mtDNA from 55 jungle cats (460 bp NADH5, 141 bp cytochrome b) and 40 leopard cats (362 bp NADH5, 202 bp cytochrome b). Jungle cats revealed high genetic variation, relatively low population structure and demographic expansion around the mid-Pleistocene. In contrast, leopard cats revealed lower genetic variation and high population structure with a F ST of 0.86 between North and South Indian populations. Niche-model analyses using two approaches (BIOCLIM and MaxEnt) support absence of leopard cats from Central India, indicating a climate associated barrier. We hypothesize that high summer temperatures limit leopard cat distribution and that a rise in temperature in the peninsular region of India during the LGM caused the split in leopard cat population in India.


          Our results indicate that ecological variables describing a species range can predict genetic patterns. Our study has also resolved the confusion over the distribution of the leopard cat in India. The reciprocally monophyletic island population in the South mandates conservation attention.

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          Most cited references15

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            ModelTest Server: a web-based tool for the statistical selection of models of nucleotide substitution online

            ModelTest server is a web-based application for the selection of models of nucleotide substitution using the program ModelTest. The server takes as input a text file with likelihood scores for the set of candidate models. Models can be selected with hierarchical likelihood ratio tests, or with the Akaike or Bayesian information criteria. The output includes several statistics for the assessment of model selection uncertainty, for model averaging or to estimate the relative importance of model parameters. The server can be accessed at .
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              Climate, phylogeny and the ecological distribution of C4 grasses.

              'C4 photosynthesis' refers to a suite of traits that increase photosynthesis in high light and high temperature environments. Most C4 plants are grasses, which dominate tropical and subtropical grasslands and savannas but are conspicuously absent from cold growing season climates. Physiological attributes of C4 photosynthesis have been invoked to explain C4 grass biogeography; however, the pathway evolved exclusively in grass lineages of tropical origin, suggesting that the prevalence of C4 grasses in warm climates could be due to other traits inherited from their non-C4 ancestors. Here we investigate the relative influences of phylogeny and photosynthetic pathway in determining the ecological distributions of C4 grasses in Hawaii. We find that the restriction of C4 grasses to warmer areas is due largely to their evolutionary history as members of a warm-climate grass clade, but that the pathway does appear to confer a competitive advantage to grasses in more arid environments.

                Author and article information

                Role: Editor
                PLoS One
                PLoS ONE
                Public Library of Science (San Francisco, USA )
                29 October 2010
                : 5
                : 10
                [1 ]National Centre for Biological Sciences, Bangalore, Karnataka, India
                [2 ]Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and Environment, Royal Enclave, Bangalore, Karnataka, India
                [3 ]Sálim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, India
                Texas A&M University, United States of America
                Author notes

                Conceived and designed the experiments: SM AK UR. Performed the experiments: SM AK KT CH NR SJ. Analyzed the data: SM AK AD. Contributed reagents/materials/analysis tools: UR. Wrote the paper: SM. Helped with niche model analysis and helped in writing that section of the paper: AD.

                Mukherjee et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
                Page count
                Pages: 16
                Research Article
                Evolutionary Biology
                Ecology/Evolutionary Ecology
                Evolutionary Biology/Evolutionary Ecology
                Evolutionary Biology/Evolutionary and Comparative Genetics



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