Taxonomy versus phylogeny: evolutionary history of marsh rabbits without hopping to conclusions
Article first published online: 11 MAY 2012
© 2012 Blackwell Publishing Ltd
Diversity and Distributions
Volume 19, Issue 2, pages 120–133, February 2013
How to Cite
Tursi, R. M., Hughes, P. T. and Hoffman, E. A. (2013), Taxonomy versus phylogeny: evolutionary history of marsh rabbits without hopping to conclusions. Diversity and Distributions, 19: 120–133. doi: 10.1111/j.1472-4642.2012.00915.x
- Issue published online: 7 JAN 2013
- Article first published online: 11 MAY 2012
- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the University of Central Florida
- UCF Institutional Animal Care
- The Florida Museum of Natural History
- Distinct population segment;
- evolutionary history;
- genetic structure;
- island subspecies;
- Lower Keys marsh rabbits;
To evaluate whether population genetic structure reflects taxonomic recognition of the endangered Lower Keys marsh rabbit ( Sylvilagus palustris hefneri) and the two mainland subspecies.
Southeastern United States.
We inferred phylogenetic relationships, population structure and genetic diversity within S. palustris using a mitochondrial gene (cytochrome b) and 10 microsatellite loci.
The cytochrome b sequence data revealed taxonomy-phylogeography incongruence, and microsatellite data revealed moderate structure ( F ST = 0.22) with two genetic clusters recovered: one grouping the western Lower Keys, and the second grouping the eastern Lower Keys together with the mainland. Furthermore, island genetic diversity was not reduced relative to mainland populations (cyt b: π: t = −0.6952, P = 0.5651; h: t = −1.2053, P = 0.4305; microsatellite: H E: t = −4.1201, P = 0.1313; AR : t = −2.3113, P = 0.2441).
The taxonomy-phylogeny disparity reveals unknown aspects of the evolutionary history including an absence of contemporary dispersal barriers between the mainland subspecies and a more recent Lower Keys isolation than originally thought. Moreover, diversity patterns indicate that undocumented man-mediated transfers may contribute to current genetic structure between eastern Lower Keys and the mainland. Although subspecies designations were not confirmed, these findings support recognition of western Lower Keys populations as a distinct population segment under the Endangered Species Act.