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Strong genetic subdivision in Leptobrachium hendricksoni (Anura: Megophryidae) in Southeast Asia

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Many biodiversity hotspots are located in areas with a complex geological history, like Southeast Asia, where species diversity may still be far underestimated, especially in morphologically conservative groups like amphibians. Recent phylogenetic studies on the frog genus Leptobrachium from Southeast Asia revealed the presence of deeply divergent mitochondrial clades in Leptobrachium hendricksoni from Malaysia and Sumatra but populations from Thailand have not been studied so far. In this study, we re-evaluate patterns of intraspecific genetic diversity in L. hendricksoni based on the analysis of combined sequences of mitochondrial 12S and 16S genes (1310 base pairs) including for the first time samples from southern Thailand. Thai populations of L. hendricksoni formed a distinct clade with respect to populations from central and southern Malaysia and Sumatra. High sequence divergence between lineages from Thailand, Malaysia and Sumatra suggests the possible presence of cryptic species in L. hendricksoni. Divergence within L. hendricksoni dates back to the late Miocene, around 6 Mya, when lineages from Thailand, north Malaysia and Sumatra split from a lineage in south Malaysia, at about the same time as rising sea levels isolated the Thai-Malay peninsula. Subsequent splits took place later in the Pliocene, around 4.5 and 2.6 Mya. Our results highlight the role of geological history in promoting population divergence and speciation.

Affiliations: 1: 1Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, Prince of Songkhla University, Songkhla, Karnjanavanit Soi 15 Rd., Hatyai 90110, Thailand ; 2: 2Laboratory of Molecular Taxonomy, Hungarian Natural History Museum, Ludovika tér 2-6, Budapest 1083, Hungary ; 3: 3Departamento de Biodiversidad y Biología Evolutiva, Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales c/José Gutiérrez Abascal, 2, 28006 Madrid, Spain ; 4: 4Department of Zoology, Hungarian Natural History Museum, Baross u. 13, Budapest 1088, Hungary

*Corresponding author; e-mail:

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