Mitochondrial DNA indicate paraphyletic relationships and resolve disjunct distributions in the Neotoma mexicana species group

Giovani Hernández Canchola, Livia León Paniagua, Jacob Aaron Esselstyn


Woodrats (genus Neotoma) comprise 24 species found primarily in the US and Mexico. The Neotoma mexicana species group reaches its southernmost distribution in the highlands of southern Mexico and Central America. Previous research suggested that N. mexicana has a disjunct distribution, and it, N. ferruginea and N. picta have allopatric distributions and limit each other around the lowlands of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. However, these hypotheses were suggested with incomplete subspecific sampling near the isthmus. We used new samples of N. m. parvidens from the Oaxacan Sierra Madre del Sur and N. m. tropicalis from the Sierra Norte de Oaxaca to assess their taxonomic affinity. With new sequences of the mitochondrial cytochrome-b gene, we found that both subspecies belong to N. ferruginea, not N. mexicana. We therefore suggest that N. mexicana is continuously distributed from the US to the Transmexican Volcanic Belt, N. picta inhabits the Guerreran Sierra Madre del Sur, and N. ferruginea ranges from the Oaxacan Sierra Madre del Sur to Central America. Our findings indicate that the Isthmus of Tehuantepec did not promote speciation in these woodrats, but we did detect intraspecific genetic differentiation between samples of N. ferruginea from east and west of the isthmus.

Palabras clave

cytochrome b; Isthmus of Tehuantepec; molecular phylogeny; Neotoma ferruginea; Sierra Madre del Sur

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