Deep divergences among inconspicuously colored clades of Epipedobates poison frogs

Karem López-Hervas, Juan C. Santos, Santiago R. Ron, Mileidy Betancourth-Cundar, David C. Cannatella, Rebecca D. Tarvin

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Poison frogs (Dendrobatidae) are famous for their aposematic species, having a combination of diverse color patterns and defensive skin toxins, yet most species in this family are inconspicuously colored and considered non-aposematic. Epipedobates is among the youngest genus-level clades of Dendrobatidae that includes both aposematic and inconspicuous species. Using Sanger-sequenced mitochondrial and nuclear markers, we demonstrate deep genetic divergences among inconspicuous species of Epipedobates but relatively shallow genetic divergences among conspicuous species. Our phylogenetic analysis includes broad geographic sampling of the inconspicuous lineages typically identified as E. boulengeri and E. espinosai, which reveals two putative new species, one in west-central Colombia (E. sp. 1) and the other in north-central Ecuador (E. aff. espinosai). We conclude that E. darwinwallacei is a junior subjective synonym of E. espinosai. We also clarify the geographic distributions of inconspicuous Epipedobates species including the widespread E. boulengeri. We provide a qualitative assessment of the phenotypic diversity in each nominal species, with a focus on the color and pattern of inconspicuous species. We conclude that Epipedobates contains eight known valid species, six of which are inconspicuous. A relaxed molecular clock analysis suggests that the most recent common ancestor of Epipedobates is ∼11.1 million years old, which nearly doubles previous estimates. Last, genetic information points to a center of species diversity in the Chocó at the southwestern border of Colombia with Ecuador. A Spanish translation of this text is available in the supplementary materials.

Idioma originalInglés
Número de artículo108065
PublicaciónMolecular Phylogenetics and Evolution
EstadoPublicada - jun. 2024

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