Data from: Phylogenetic and morphological investigation of the Mochlus afer-sundevallii Species Complex (Squamata: Scincidae) across the arid corridor of sub-Saharan Africa
Freitas, Elyse S. et al. (2019), Data from: Phylogenetic and morphological investigation of the Mochlus afer-sundevallii Species Complex (Squamata: Scincidae) across the arid corridor of sub-Saharan Africa, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.6180s6f
The aridification of Africa resulted in the fragmentation of forests and the expansion of an arid corridor stretching from the northeast to southwest portion of sub-Saharan Africa, but the role this corridor has had in species-level diversification of southern African vertebrates is poorly understood. The, skink species Mochlus afer and M. sundevallii inhabit wide areas of the arid corridor and are therefore an ideal species pair for studying patterns of genetic and phenotypic diversity associated with this landscape. However, species boundaries between these taxa have been controversial. Using multi-locus molecular and morphological datasets, we investigate diversification patterns of the M. afer-sundevallii Species Complex across the arid corridor. Although analysis of genetic data reveals some genetic structure among geographic populations, results of phylogenetic and morphological analyses provide little support for two distinct evolutionary lineages, suggesting that populations previously referred to as M. afer and M. sundevallii represent a single species, Mochlus sundevallii. Genetic diversity is unequally distributed across the arid corridor, with observed patterns consistent with aridification-facilitated diversification southward across southern Africa. Additional geographic and population-level sampling is necessary before more conclusive inferences can be drawn about the role historical climate transitions has played in skink diversification patterns across southern Africa.