Phylogeography of an east Australian wet-forest bird, the satin bowerbird (Ptilonorhynchus violaceus), derived from mtDNA, and its relationship to morphology

Authors

  • J. A. NICHOLLS,

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    1. School of Integrative Biology, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Qld 4072, Australia
      James A. Nicholls, Fax: + 61 73365 1655; E-mail: jnicholls@zen.uq.edu.au.
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  • J. J. AUSTIN

    1. School of Integrative Biology, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Qld 4072, Australia
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    • Present address: Sciences Department, Museum Victoria, GPO Box 666E, Melbourne, Vic. 3001, Australia.


James A. Nicholls, Fax: + 61 73365 1655; E-mail: jnicholls@zen.uq.edu.au.

Abstract

Australian wet forests have undergone a contraction in range since the mid-Tertiary, resulting in a fragmented distribution along the east Australian coast incorporating several biogeographical barriers. Variation in mitochondrial DNA and morphology within the satin bowerbird was used to examine biogeographical structure throughout almost the entire geographical extent of these wet forest fragments. We used several genetic analysis techniques, nested clade and barrier analyses, that use patterns inherent in the data to describe the spatial structuring. We also examined the validity of the two previously described satin bowerbird subspecies that are separated by well-defined biogeographical barriers and tested existing hypotheses that propose divergence occurs within each subspecies across two other barriers, the Black Mountain corridor and the Hunter Valley. Our data showed that the two subspecies were genetically and morphologically divergent. The northern subspecies, found in the Wet Tropics region of Queensland, showed little divergence across the Black Mountain corridor, a barrier found to be significant in other Wet Tropics species. Biogeographical structure was found through southeastern Australia; three geographically isolated populations showed genetic differentiation, although minimal divergence was found across the proposed Hunter Valley barrier. A novel barrier was found separating inland and coastal populations in southern New South Wales. Little morphological divergence was observed within subspecies, bar a trend for birds to be larger in the more southerly parts of the species’ range. The results from both novel and well-established genetic analyses were similar, providing greater confidence in the conclusions about spatial divergence and supporting the validity of these new techniques.

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