Skip to main content

Data from: Geography and past climate changes have shaped the evolution of a widespread lizard from the Chilean hotspot

Cite this dataset

Muñoz-Mendoza, Carla et al. (2017). Data from: Geography and past climate changes have shaped the evolution of a widespread lizard from the Chilean hotspot [Dataset]. Dryad.


The complex orogenic history and structure of Southern South America, coupled with Pleistocene glacial cycles, have generated paleoclimatic and environmental changes that influenced the spatial distribution and genetic composition of natural populations. Despite the increased number of phylogeographic studies in this region and given the frequent idiosyncratic phylogeographic patterns, there is still the need to focus research especially on species that are currently distributed within a wide range of bioclimatic regimes, and that historically have been subject to contrasting scenarios. Liolaemus tenuis is a widely distributed lizard species inhabiting latitudinally in almost 1,000 km through central and southern Chile. Here we describe the geographical patterns of genetic variation and lineage diversification within L. tenuis, and their association with geography and Pleistocene glaciations, using sequences from one mitochondrial and two nuclear genes, and five microsatellite loci, and covering most of the species distributional range. Our results revealed a high diversity both within and among populations, as well as two phylogeographic breaks, which are consistent with two of the larger rivers of central Chile, the Maipo and Biobío Rivers. Liolaemus tenuis is characterized by several allopatric lineages, especially in its north and central range, which suggest a history of multiple vicariance processes. Conversely, populations found in the southern range, south of the Biobío River, show signatures of recent decreases in effective population sizes, coupled with recent range expansions and secondary contact. Niche “envelope” data are consistent with patterns of genetic variation; both suggest a history of discontinuous areas of relatively stable populations throughout all of the distribution of L. tenuis. These data are also consistent with higher probabilities of habitat suitability north of the Maipo River (ca. 33°S), in both coastal areas and the “Intermediate Depression” between 34° - 37°S, as well as in the southern Coastal Cordillera between the Biobío and Araucanía regions. Interestingly, both molecular and niche envelope modelling data suggest that some populations may have persisted in fragmented refugia in Andean valleys, within the limits of the ice sheet. Finally, our results suggest that several populations of L. tenuis colonized glaciated regions from refugial areas in lowlands and coastal regions, and in the southern distribution, historic migration events would have occurred from refugial areas within the limits of the ice sheet.

Usage notes