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Data from: Speciation with gene flow in whiptail lizards from a Neotropical xeric biome

Cite this dataset

Oliveira, Eliana F. et al. (2015). Data from: Speciation with gene flow in whiptail lizards from a Neotropical xeric biome [Dataset]. Dryad.


Two main hypotheses have been proposed to explain the diversification of the Caatinga biota. The riverine barrier hypothesis (RBH) claims that the São Francisco River (SFR) is a major biogeographic barrier to gene flow. The Pleistocene climatic fluctuation hypothesis (PCH) states that gene flow, geographic genetic structure, and demographic signatures on endemic Caatinga taxa were influenced by Quaternary climate fluctuation cycles. Herein we analyze genetic diversity and structure, phylogeographic history, and diversification of a widespread Caatinga lizard (Cnemidophorus ocellifer) based on large geographical sampling for multiple loci to test the predictions derived from the RBH and PCH. We inferred two well-delimited lineages (Northeast and Southwest) that have diverged along the Cerrado-Caatinga border during the Mid-Late Miocene (6–14 Ma) despite the presence of gene flow. We reject both major hypotheses proposed to explain diversification in the Caatinga. Surprisingly, our results revealed a striking complex diversification pattern where the Northeast lineage originated as a founder effect from a few individuals located along the edge of the Southwest lineage that eventually expanded throughout the Caatinga. The Southwest lineage is more diverse, older, and associated to the Cerrado-Caatinga boundaries. Finally, we suggest that C. ocellifer from the Caatinga is composed of two distinct species. Our data support speciation in the presence of gene flow and highlight the role of environmental gradients in the diversification process.

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