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Coalescent Method in Conjunction with Niche Modeling Reveals Cryptic Diversity among Centipedes in the Western Ghats of South India

Joshi, Jahnavi and Karanth, Praveen K (2012) Coalescent Method in Conjunction with Niche Modeling Reveals Cryptic Diversity among Centipedes in the Western Ghats of South India. In: PLOS ONE, 7 (8).

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0042225


Background: There has been growing interest in integrative taxonomy that uses data from multiple disciplines for species delimitation. Typically, in such studies, monophyly is taken as a proxy for taxonomic distinctiveness and these units are treated as potential species. However, monophyly could arise due to stochastic processes. Thus here, we have employed a recently developed tool based on coalescent approach to ascertain the taxonomic distinctiveness of various monophyletic units. Subsequently, the species status of these taxonomic units was further tested using corroborative evidence from morphology and ecology. This inter-disciplinary approach was implemented on endemic centipedes of the genus Digitipes (Attems 1930) from the Western Ghats (WG) biodiversity hotspot of India. The species of the genus Digitipes are morphologically conserved, despite their ancient late Cretaceous origin. Principal Findings: Our coalescent analysis based on mitochondrial dataset indicated the presence of nine putative species. The integrative approach, which includes nuclear, morphology, and climate datasets supported distinctiveness of eight putative species, of which three represent described species and five were new species. Among the five new species, three were morphologically cryptic species, emphasizing the effectiveness of this approach in discovering cryptic diversity in less explored areas of the tropics like the WG. In addition, species pairs showed variable divergence along the molecular, morphological and climate axes. Conclusions: A multidisciplinary approach illustrated here is successful in discovering cryptic diversity with an indication that the current estimates of invertebrate species richness for the WG might have been underestimated. Additionally, the importance of measuring multiple secondary properties of species while defining species boundaries was highlighted given variable divergence of each species pair across the disciplines.

Item Type: Journal Article
Additional Information: Copy right for this article belongs to Public Library Science USA
Department/Centre: Division of Biological Sciences > Centre for Ecological Sciences
Depositing User: Francis Jayakanth
Date Deposited: 15 Oct 2012 04:44
Last Modified: 15 Oct 2012 04:46
URI: http://eprints.iisc.ac.in/id/eprint/45092

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