The conservation implications of geographic structure and potential species boundaries in southern Philippine river toads
Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution.
We investigated phylogeography of Philippine slender toads (genus Ansonia) and used a temporal framework for diversification, statistical tests of alternate topologies, and Bayesian approaches to test previous hypotheses concerning dispersal to, and colonization routes within, the southern Philippine island of Mindanao. Two species of Ansonia previously have been documented, with ranges separated by an east–west split corresponding to the approximate boundaries of Mindanao’s paleoisland precursors. We present new mtDNA sequence data (1946 bp from genes encoding ND1, 16S rRNA and tRNALeu) for 105 Ansonia specimens sampled from 20 localities on Mindanao Island. Our data suggest that Philippine Ansonia is composed of at least eight, well-supported population lineages, structured into a minimum of four highly divergent mtDNA clades. One clade corresponds to Ansonia mcgregori, a range-restricted species apparently limited to the distal portion of the Zamboanga Peninsula of western Mindanao. Two morphologically indistinguishable, but genetically divergent, lineages possibly are undescribed cryptic species from western Mindanao. We recognize the five remaining lineages as Ansonia muelleri pending data from morphology or bioacoustics that might diagnose separate species among these lineages. Regardless of their species status, the five allopatric lineages of A. muelleri should be viewed as important genetic units for future genetic conservation planning.