In order to assess the utility of nested clade analysis, both standard phylogenetic algorithms and nested clade analysis were performed on a geographically widespread survey of mitochondrial DNA haplotypes of the bamboo viper, Trimeresurus stejnegeri, within Taiwan. Gross tree topologies were congruent for all analyses and indicated the presence of two geographically overlapping clades within Taiwan. The smaller lineage was restricted to the north and east coasts, whereas the larger lineage occupied all but the northern range of the species within Taiwan including the Pacific offshore populations of Green and Orchid Islands. The phylogeographical pattern supports the existence of at least one colonization event from the continent since the initial isolation of Taiwan from the mainland in the Pliocene. However, determining the exact number of colonization events was not possible due to the simultaneous vicariant forces of hypothesized continental landbridge connections and the occurrence of dramatic in situ orogenesis throughout the Pleistocene. Nested clade analysis provided multiple temporal and spatial population historical inferences that are not possible with standard analyses and therefore should become widely applied to future phylogeographical studies.
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