Comparative phylogeography of Australo-Papuan mangrove-restricted and mangrove-associated avifaunas


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The world's richest mangrove-restricted avifauna is in Australia and New Guinea. The history of differentiation of the species involved and their patterns of intraspecific genetic variation remain poorly known. Here, we use sequence data derived from two mitochondrial protein-coding genes to study the evolutionary history of eight co-distributed mangrove-restricted and mangrove-associated birds from the Australian part of this region. Utilizing a comparative phylogeographical framework, we observed that the study species present concordantly located phylogeographical breaks across their shared geographical distribution, a plausible signature of common mechanisms of vicariance underlying this pattern. Barriers such as the Canning Gap, Bonaparte Gap, and the Carpentarian Gaps all had important but varying degrees of impact on the studied species. The Burdekin Gap along Australia's eastern seaboard probably had only a minor influence as a barrier to gene flow in mangrove birds. Statistical phylogeographical simulations were able to discriminate among alternative scenarios involving six different geographical and temporal population separations. Species exhibiting recent colonizations into mangroves include Rhipidura phasiana, Myiagra ruficollis, and Myzomela erythrocephala. By contrast, Peneoenanthe pulverulenta, Pachycephala melanura, Pachycephala lanioides, Zosterops luteus, and Colluricincla megarhyncha all had deeper histories, reflected as more marked phylogeographical divisions separating populations on the eastern seaboard/Cape York Peninsula from more western regions such as the Arnhem Land, the Pilbara, and the Kimberley. © 2013 The Linnean Society of London, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2013, 109, 574–598.