Whether the Pleistocene has had a disproportionate impact on the recent diversification of temperate species, or played a lesser role in a more protracted process, has been a prominent evolutionary debate for the past decade. We used cytochrome b sequences to reconstruct the evolutionary histories of two widely co-distributed, and ecologically divergent frogs (Rana catesbeiana and Pseudacriscrucifer) to examine the role of the Pleistocene in structuring these species. Results for R. catesbeiana reflect a pattern of allopatric fragmentation, likely in Coastal Plain refugia on either side of the Mississippi River dating to the mid to early Pleistocene. In contrast, P. crucifer contains numerous divergent lineages, including one west of the Mississippi River in the Interior Highlands, and in the east, multiple lineages that likely expanded from a number of southern Appalachian refugia with lineage sundering originating in the late Pliocene. Large-scale phylogeographic comparisons between these and other eastern North American species reflect both congruent and independent patterns of diversification, possibly reflecting the relative importance of dispersal ability and habitat associations. Although intra-lineage diversification has been structured by repeated Pleistocene glaciations, lineage sundering likely dates at least to the Pliocene in most (but not all) northern temperate amphibian and reptile species studied to date.
Collected toe clippings or blood samples