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Tropical niche conservatism explains the Eocene migration from India to Southeast Asia in Ochyroceratid spiders


Li, Fengyuan; Shao, Lili; Li, Shuqiang (2020), Tropical niche conservatism explains the Eocene migration from India to Southeast Asia in Ochyroceratid spiders, Dryad, Dataset,


Biological migrations between India and Southeast (SE) Asia provide an ideal system for exploring the effects of geology and climate on species ranges. Geologists have confirmed that the direct collision between India and Eurasia occurred in the Early Eocene, but most migrations occurred between the Indian subcontinent and SE Asia rather than the former and the southern margin of Eurasia. To explain this seemingly paradoxical disconnect between the routes of plate movement and biological migration, we studied the evolutionary history of the tropical spider family Ochyroceratidae based on 101 globally distributed species. We infer a robust dated phylogeny using both transcriptomic data and a dataset of classical markers and relate these to biogeographic and climatic analyses. Our results indicate that the monophyly of Ochyroceratidae is strongly supported, and the divergence times suggest a Cretaceous Gondwanan origin of the family. Reconstructed biogeographic histories support a dispersal event from the Indian subcontinent to islands of SE Asia 55–38 million years ago. Climatic analyses and the fossil record reveal that ochyroceratids are characterized by a high degree of tropical niche conservatism, and that the ancestor of the Indian and SE Asian clades originated in very warm, wet environments. Early Eocene tropical, perhumid climates in India and SE Asia may have facilitated ochyroceratid migration, whereas the dry or seasonal climate extending from the eastern coast of China to Central Asia may have acted as a barrier, preventing dispersal. Our analyses suggest that climate plays a more important role than geology in biological migration from the Indian subcontinent to SE Asia, providing new insights into the Indian–Asian biogeographic link.

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Strategic Priority Research Program of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Award: XDB31000000

National Natural Sciences Foundation of China