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Phylogenomic analysis of evolutionary relationships in Ranitomeya poison frogs (Family Dendrobatidae) using ultraconserved elements


Available online 10 January 2022, 107389

Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution rights and content


We present the first comprehensive genome-scale phylogeny for the Ranitomeya genus.

R. toraro and R. defleri are not sister species.

R. uakarii is paraphyletic, segregating based on geography and color pattern.

We designate R. amazonica from French Guiana and eastern Brazil as R. variabilis.

We describe two biogeographic hypotheses for Ranitomeya based on divergence times.


The use of genome-scale data in phylogenetics has enabled recent strides in determining the relationships between taxa that are taxonomically problematic because of extensive morphological variation. Here, we employ a phylogenomic approach to infer evolutionary relationships within Ranitomeya (Anura: Dendrobatidae), an Amazonian lineage of poison frogs consisting of 16 species with remarkable diversity in color pattern, range size, and parental care behavior. We infer phylogenies with all described species of Ranitomeya from ultraconserved nuclear genomic elements (UCEs) and also estimate divergence times. Our results differ from previous analyses regarding interspecific relationships. Notably, we find that R. toraro and R. defleri are not sister species but rather distantly related, contrary to previous analyses based on smaller genetic datasets. We recover R. uakarii as paraphyletic, designate certain populations formerly assigned to R. fantastica from Peru as R. summersi, and transfer the French Guianan and eastern Brazilian R. amazonica populations to R. variabilis. By clarifying both inter- and intraspecific relationships within Ranitomeya, our study paves the way for future tests of hypotheses on color pattern evolution and historical biogeography.




divergence time estimation




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