Evolution in the understorey: The Sulawesi babbler Pellorneum celebense (Passeriformes: Pellorneidae) has diverged rapidly on land-bridge islands in the Wallacean biodiversity hotspot

Fionn Ó. Marcaigh, David J. Kelly, Darren P. O'Connell, Daniel Dunleavy, Alice Clark, Naomi Lawless, Adi Karya, Kangkuso Analuddin, Nicola M. Marples
2021 Zoologischer Anzeiger  
Tropical islands hold great treasures of Earth's biodiversity, but these fragile ecosystems may be lost before their diversity is fully catalogued or the evolutionary processes that birthed it are understood. We ran comparative analyses on the ND2 and ND3 mitochondrial genes of the Sulawesi babbler Pellorneum celebense, an understorey bird endemic to Sulawesi and its continental islands, along with its morphology and song. Genetic, acoustic, and morphological data agree on multiple isolated
more » ... lations, likely representing independently evolving lineages. The Sulawesi babbler shows signs of rapid speciation, with populations diverging between Central and Southeast Sulawesi, and even on land-bridge islands which were connected within the last few tens of thousands of years. The genetic divergence between Sulawesi babbler populations in this time has been around 33% of their divergence from sister species which have been isolated from Sulawesi for millions of years. This is likely facilitated by the Sulawesi babbler's understorey lifestyle, which inhibits gene flow and promotes speciation. Similar patterns of endemism are seen in Sulawesi's mammals and amphibians. This work highlights the undocumented biodiversity of a threatened hotspot, wrought by complex processes of speciation which interact with ecology and geology. Subspecific taxonomy has at times been controversial, but we argue that discrete populations such as these play a key role in evolution. Lying as they do at the heart of the biodiversity hotspot of Wallacea, these islands can reveal much about the evolution of biodiversity at all of its levels, from the gene to the ecosystem.
doi:10.1016/j.jcz.2021.07.006 fatcat:neqvkolbrferfdmgcxcvtwzjcq