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Climatic-niche evolution with key morphological innovations across clades within Scutiger boulengeri (Anura: Megophryidae)
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  • Xiuqin Lin,
  • Chungkun Shih,
  • Yinmeng Hou,
  • Xiaoxiao Shu,
  • Meihua Zhang,
  • Junhua Hu,
  • Jiangping JIANG,
  • Feng Xie
Xiuqin Lin
Chengdu Institute of Biology
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Chungkun Shih
Capital Normal University
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Yinmeng Hou
Chengdu Institute of Biology
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Xiaoxiao Shu
Chengdu Institute of Biology
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Meihua Zhang
Chengdu Institute of Biology
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Junhua Hu
Chengdu Institute of Biology
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Jiangping JIANG
Chengdu Institute of Biology
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Feng Xie
Chengdu Institute of Biology
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Abstract

The studies of climatic-niche shifts over evolutionary time accompanied by key morphological innovations have attracted the interest of many researchers recently. We analyzed the realized niche dynamics across clades within Scutiger boulengeri using ecological niche models (ENMs), ordination method (environment principal component analysis; PCA-env), and correspondingly key morphological innovations combined phylogenetic comparative methods (PCMs) and phylogenetic generalized least squares (PGLS) regression methods throughout their distributions in Qinghai-Tibet Plateau (QTP) margins of China in Asia. Our analyses reveal that there is obvious niche divergence caused by niche expansion across S. boulengeri clades, especially in E. A, E. B and partial of E. C clades. Moreover, niche expansion is more popular than niche unfilling into novel environmental conditions. Annual mean temperature and Annual precipitation are the most important contributors in E. A and E. B clades, while Precipitation of driest month is most likely to be the leading limited factor in these two regions according to jackknife test of variable importance. In addition, we identified several key ecological and morphological traits that tend to be associated with niche expansion in S. boulengeri clades correspondingly. Specifically, we found that Elevation, Isothermality, Mean diurnal range and Max temperature of warmest month are significantly negative predictors of snout–vent length (SVL) under phylogenetic models, while the S. boulengeri toads from warmer and more arid environments tend to be larger. There seems to a trade-off strategy by trait covary of locomotor performance combined with enlarged SVL, which provide us a potential pattern of how a colonizing toad might seed a novel habit to begin the process of speciation and finally adaptive radiation. It is worth noting that we should not overlook that the Tibet continuously growing and moving northward over millions of years has laid the foundation for early divergence of clades within S. boulengeri.

Peer review status:ACCEPTED

26 Feb 2021Submitted to Ecology and Evolution
27 Feb 2021Submission Checks Completed
27 Feb 2021Assigned to Editor
09 Mar 2021Reviewer(s) Assigned
21 Apr 2021Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
11 May 2021Editorial Decision: Revise Minor
23 May 20211st Revision Received
23 May 2021Submission Checks Completed
23 May 2021Assigned to Editor
23 May 2021Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
02 Jun 2021Editorial Decision: Accept