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Keywords:

  • coalescent methods;
  • cytochrome oxidase I;
  • Geoplaninae;
  • internal transcribed spacer-1;
  • Mata Atlantica biodiversity;
  • molecular phylogeny;
  • neutrality tests;
  • Tricladida

Abstract

The Brazilian Atlantic Forest is one of the richest biodiversity hotspots of the world. Paleoclimatic models have predicted two large stability regions in its northern and central parts, whereas southern regions might have suffered strong instability during Pleistocene glaciations. Molecular phylogeographic and endemism studies show, nevertheless, contradictory results: although some results validate these predictions, other data suggest that paleoclimatic models fail to predict stable rainforest areas in the south. Most studies, however, have surveyed species with relatively high dispersal rates whereas taxa with lower dispersion capabilities should be better predictors of habitat stability. Here, we have used two land planarian species as model organisms to analyse the patterns and levels of nucleotide diversity on a locality within the Southern Atlantic Forest. We find that both species harbour high levels of genetic variability without exhibiting the molecular footprint of recent colonization or population expansions, suggesting a long-term stability scenario. The results reflect, therefore, that paleoclimatic models may fail to detect refugia in the Southern Atlantic Forest, and that model organisms with low dispersal capability can improve the resolution of these models.