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Data from: Divergence of tropical pitvipers promoted by independent colonization events of dry montane Andean habitats

Cite this dataset

Salazar-Valenzuela, David et al. (2019). Data from: Divergence of tropical pitvipers promoted by independent colonization events of dry montane Andean habitats [Dataset]. Dryad.


Aim: One aspect that is still poorly explored about the origin and maintenance of Neotropical biodiversity is how the evolutionary dynamics of colonization and differentiation in relation to lowland and highland habitats has impacted lineage formation. Most speciation models for this region have focused on vicariant events, and the need to assess the influence of demographic processes has been recognized only recently. We evaluate if the origin of Andean montane lineages of terciopelo pitvipers is explained by either of two historical processes that represent fundamental phylogeographic mechanisms: differentiation by isolation within the highlands or different dispersal events from the lowlands. Location: Western Ecuador. Taxon: Terciopelo pitvipers (Bothrops asper species complex). Methods: We use genomic data and genetic clustering analyses, evaluation of historical migration between genetic clusters, and demographic model selection to investigate recent diversification events in South America using a vertebrate group rarely explored in phylogeographic studies: tropical Andean snakes. Specifically, the origin of two Ecuadorian montane lineages of terciopelo pitvipers was evaluated given ambiguous phylogenetic relationships with the presumably ancestral Pacific lowland lineage. Results: Discrepancies of evolutionary relationships previously obtained with tree-like methods are resolved through the use of modeling approaches. We found strong support for the independent origin of montane lineages based on topologies inferred by maximum-likelihood trees and modeling approaches that take into account possible gene flow. Main conclusions: Recent large-scale studies have found support for identifying dispersal events as important drivers of diversification in the Neotropical region. We contribute to these ideas by identifying a fine-scale case in a rarely explored group of animals -Andean snakes- in which river valleys acted as an entrance for the upward colonization of montane dry habitats and subsequent ecological diversification.

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northern Andes