Phylogeography of Silver Pheasant (Lophura nycthemera L.) across China: aggregate effects of refugia, introgression and riverine barriers

Authors

  • Lu Dong,

    1. Ministry of Education Key Laboratory for Biodiversity and Ecological Engineering, College of Life Sciences, Beijing Normal University, Beijing, China
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  • Gerald Heckel,

    1. Computational and Molecular Population Genetics, Institute of Ecology and Evolution, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland
    2. Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics, Genopode, Lausanne, Switzerland
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  • Wei Liang,

    1. Ministry of Education Key Laboratory for Tropical Animal and Plant Ecology, College of Life Sciences, Hainan Normal University, Haikou, China
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  • Yanyun Zhang

    Corresponding author
    • Ministry of Education Key Laboratory for Biodiversity and Ecological Engineering, College of Life Sciences, Beijing Normal University, Beijing, China
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Correspondence: Yanyun Zhang, Fax: +86 10 588 053 99; E-mail: zhangyy@bnu.edu.cn

Abstract

The role of Pleistocene glacial cycles in forming the contemporary genetic structure of organisms has been well studied in China with a particular focus on the Tibetan Plateau. However, China has a complex topography and diversity of local climates, and how glacial cycles may have shaped the subtropical and tropical biota of the region remains mostly unaddressed. To investigate the factors that affected the phylogeography and population history of a widely distributed and nondeciduous forest species, we analysed morphological characters, mitochondrial DNA sequences and nuclear microsatellite loci in the Silver Pheasant (Lophura nycthemera). In a pattern generally consistent with phenotypic clusters, but not nominal subspecies, deeply divergent mitochondrial lineages restricted to different geographic regions were detected. Coalescent simulations indicated that the time of main divergence events corresponded to major glacial periods in the Pleistocene and gene flow was only partially lowered by drainage barriers between some populations. Intraspecific cytonuclear discordance was revealed in mitochondrial lineages from Hainan Island and the Sichuan Basin with evidence of nuclear gene flow from neighbouring populations into the latter. Unexpectedly, hybridization was revealed in Yingjiang between the Silver Pheasant and Kalij Pheasant (Lophura leucomelanos) with wide genetic introgression at both the mtDNA and nuclear levels. Our results highlight a novel phylogeographic pattern in a subtropical area generated from the combined effects of climate oscillation, partial drainage barriers and interspecific hybridization. Cytonuclear discordance combined with morphological differentiation implies that complex historical factors shaped the divergence process in this biodiversity hot spot area of southern China.

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