Phylogeny of Telmatobius marmoratus complex (Anura, Telmatobiidae) reveals high cryptic diversity in the Andean Altiplano

Paola A. Sáez, Álvaro Zúñiga-Reinoso, Pablo Fibla, Franco Cruz-Jofré, César Aguilar, James Aparicio, Juan Carlos Cusi, Katherin Otálora, Marco A. Méndez

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Telmatobius is the most diverse group of anurans in the Andean Altiplano (highlands) Morphologically, these amphibians have a generally conserved morphology but in turn present large intraspecific variation, which has led to a complex taxonomy and systematics. T. marmoratus has the widest distribution of the genus and forms a complex composed of at least two Telmatobius species. Partial systematic studies based on molecular evidence reveal the existence of three lineages with a complex spatial distribution. However, these studies did not include the entire distribution of T. marmoratus. Our study aims to reassess the current systematic scenario including the complete distribution of the complex. For this, we used a multilocus approach based on mitochondrial (16S, Cytb) and nuclear (RAG1-1, BFIB) DNA sequences to build a phylogenetic hypothesis based on Bayesian inference, maximum likelihood and maximum parsimony. Subsequently, we performed single-locus (ABGD and PTP) and multilocus (STACEY) species delimitation analyses to verify the diversity of nominal species within the complex. The analyses suggest seven non-sibling lineages and 6-10 candidate species within the marmoratus complex. Only one of the two lineages restricted to the central northern plateau correspond to T. marmoratus sensu stricto. South-central marbled water frogs belong to completely new lineages closer to T. gigas and T. culeus, evidencing the polyphyletic condition of the marmoratus complex. The findings of several sympatric lineages in some localities reveal a complex history of ancient water connections in south-central Altiplano.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)107594
Number of pages1
JournalMolecular Phylogenetics and Evolution
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2022
Externally publishedYes

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  • Convergence
  • Cryptic species
  • High Andean wetlands
  • Marbled water frog
  • Molecular markers
  • Species delimitation


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