Phylogenetic relationships of bolitoglossine salamanders: A demonstration of the effects of combining morphological and molecular data sets.

We analyzed sequence data for 555 bp of the mitochondrial gene cytochrome b in plethodontid salamanders, taken from 18 ingroup (tribe Bolitoglossini) and 4 outgroup (tribe Plethodontini) taxa. There were 257 variable sites, of which 219 were phylogenetically informative. Sequence differences among taxa exceeded 20%, and there were up to 15% amino acid differences among the sequences. We also analyzed 37 morphological (including karyological) characters, taken from the literature, Data were analyzed separately and then combined using parsimony and likelihood approaches. There is little conflict between the morphological and DNA data, and that which occurs is at nodes that are weakly supported by one or both of the data sets. Treated separately, the morphological and DNA data provide strong support for some nodes but not for others. The combined data act synergistically so that good support is obtained for nearly all of the nodes in the tree. Recent divergences are supported by silent transitions, and older divergences are supported by a combination of morphological, karyological, DNA transversion, and ammo acid changes. Eliminating silent changes from the DNA data improves the consistency index and improves some bootstrap and decay index values for several deeper branches in the tree. However, the combined data set with all characters included provides a better supported tree overall. Maximum likelihood and parsimony with all of the data give not only the same topology but also remarkably similar branch lengths. Results of this analysis support the monophyly of the supergenera Hydromantes and Batruchoseps, and of a sister group relationship of Batruchoseps and the supergenus Bolitoglossu (represented in this study by one species of the genus Bolitoglossu).

Main Author: Jackman, Todd.
Other Authors: Applebaum, Geoffery., Wake, David.
Language: English
Published: 1997
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