Freshwater paths across the ocean: molecular phylogeny of the frog Ptychadena newtoni gives insights into amphibian colonization of oceanic islands - Archive ouverte HAL Access content directly
Journal Articles Journal of Biogeography Year : 2007

Freshwater paths across the ocean: molecular phylogeny of the frog Ptychadena newtoni gives insights into amphibian colonization of oceanic islands

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1
J. Measey
  • Function : Author
M. Vences
  • Function : Author
R.C. Drewes
  • Function : Author
Y. Chiari
  • Function : Author
M. Melo
  • Function : Author

Abstract

Aim Amphibians are a model group for studies of the biogeographical origins of salt-intolerant taxa on oceanic islands. We used the Gulf of Guinea islands to explore the biogeographical origins of island endemism of one species of frog, and used this to gain insights into potential colonization mechanisms. Location Sao Tome and Principe, two of the four major islands in the Gulf of Guinea, West Africa, are truly oceanic and have an exceptionally high biodiversity. Methods Mitochondrial DNA is used to test the endemic status of a frog from Sao Tome and compare it with congeneric taxa from tropical Africa. Existing data on surface currents, surface salinity, atmospheric circulation and bird migration in the Gulf of Guinea are summarized to address hypotheses concerning colonization mechanisms. Results The endemic status of Ptychadena newtoni (Bocage) is supported here by mitochondrial DNA sequences, and analysis of this and other molecular data indicates that an East African species close to Ptychadena mascareniensis (Dumeril and Bibron) is its nearest relative. We refute the possibility that this population was anthropogenically introduced, in favour of a natural dispersal mechanism. Main conclusions With six endemic frogs and one caecilian, the Gulf of Guinea islands harbour a diverse amphibian fauna. Five of these species appear to have their closest relatives in East Africa. Insufficient evidence exists for transportation by storms, birds or rafts alone. However, we propose a synergy of rafting, favourable surface currents and a reduction in salinity of surface waters. Catastrophic events, or wet periods in climatic history, could allow freshwater paths to open far enough to enable continental flora and fauna to reach these and other isolated oceanic islands.

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hal-00406751 , version 1 (23-07-2009)

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J. Measey, M. Vences, R.C. Drewes, Y. Chiari, M. Melo, et al.. Freshwater paths across the ocean: molecular phylogeny of the frog Ptychadena newtoni gives insights into amphibian colonization of oceanic islands. Journal of Biogeography, 2007, 34 (1), pp.7-20. ⟨10.1111/j.1365-2699.2006.01589.x⟩. ⟨hal-00406751⟩
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