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Phylogenomic discordance in the Eared Seals is best explained by incomplete lineage sorting following explosive radiation in the Southern Hemisphere

Citation

Lopes, Fernando et al. (2021), Phylogenomic discordance in the Eared Seals is best explained by incomplete lineage sorting following explosive radiation in the Southern Hemisphere, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.pzgmsbchw

Abstract

The phylogeny and systematics of fur seals and sea lions (Otariidae) have long been studied with diverse data types, including an increasing amount of molecular data. However, only a few phylogenetic relationships have reached acceptance pointing at strong gene-tree species tree discordance. Divergence times in the group also vary largely between studies. These uncertainties impeded the understanding of the biogeographical history of the group, such as when and how trans-equatorial dispersal and subsequent speciation events occurred. Here we used high-coverage genome-wide sequencing for 14 of the 15 species of Otariidae to elucidate the phylogeny of the family and its bearing on the taxonomy and biogeographical history. Despite extreme topological discordance among gene trees, we found a fully supported species tree that agrees with the few well-accepted relationships and establishes monophyly of the genus Arctocephalus. Our data support a relatively recent trans-hemispheric dispersal at the base of a southern clade, which rapidly diversified into six major lineages between 3 to 2.5 Mya. Otaria diverged first, followed by Phocarctos and then four major lineages within Arctocephalus. However, we found Zalophus to be non-monophyletic, with California (Z. californianus) and Steller sea lions (Eumetopias jubatus) grouping closer than the Galapagos sea lion (Z. wollebaeki) with evidence for introgression between the two genera. Overall, the high degree of genealogical discordance was best explained by incomplete lineage sorting resulting from quasi-simultaneous speciation within the southern clade with introgresssion playing a subordinate role in explaining the incongruence among and within prior phylogenetic studies of the family.