Working at the interface of phylogenetics and population genetics: a biogeographical analysis of Triaenops spp. (Chiroptera: Hipposideridae).

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New applications of genetic data to questions of historical biogeography have revolutionized our understanding of how organisms have come to occupy their present distributions. Phylogenetic methods in combination with divergence time estimation can reveal biogeographical centres of origin, differentiate between hypotheses of vicariance and dispersal, and reveal the directionality of dispersal events. Despite their power, however, phylogenetic methods can sometimes yield patterns that are compatible with multiple, equally well-supported biogeographical hypotheses. In such cases, additional approaches must be integrated to differentiate among conflicting dispersal hypotheses. Here, we use a synthetic approach that draws upon the analytical strengths of coalescent and population genetic methods to augment phylogenetic analyses in order to assess the biogeographical history of Madagascar's Triaenops bats (Chiroptera: Hipposideridae). Phylogenetic analyses of mitochondrial DNA sequence data for Malagasy and east African Triaenops reveal a pattern that equally supports two competing hypotheses. While the phylogeny cannot determine whether Africa or Madagascar was the centre of origin for the species investigated, it serves as the essential backbone for the application of coalescent and population genetic methods. From the application of these methods, we conclude that a hypothesis of two independent but unidirectional dispersal events from Africa to Madagascar is best supported by the data.





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Russell, AL, J Ranivo, EP Palkovacs, SM Goodman and AD Yoder (2007). Working at the interface of phylogenetics and population genetics: a biogeographical analysis of Triaenops spp. (Chiroptera: Hipposideridae). Mol Ecol, 16(4). pp. 839–851. 10.1111/j.1365-294X.2007.03192.x Retrieved from

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Anne Daphne Yoder

Braxton Craven Distinguished Professor of Evolutionary Biology

My work integrates field inventory activities with molecular phylogenetic techniques and geospatial analysis to investigate Madagascar, an area of the world that is biologically complex, poorly understood, and urgently threatened. Madagascar has been designated as one of the most critical geographic priorities for conservation action, retaining less than 10% of the natural habitats that existed before human colonization. It is critical that information be obtained as quickly as possible to document the biota that occurs in the remaining and highly threatened forested areas of western Madagascar, to gain an understanding of the evolutionary processes and associated distributional patterns that have shaped this diversity, and to use this information to help set conservation priorities. Phylogenetic and biogeographic analysis of Malagasy vertebrates, each with unique life-history and dispersal characteristics, are conducted to identify areas of high endemism potentially associated with underlying geological features, and also to test for the role that geographic features have played in generating patterns of vertebrate diversity and distribution. My lab also has a significant focus on capacity-building through the education and training of both American and Malagasy students. Research opportunities for American graduate students are enhanced by the formation of Malagasy/American partnerships.

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