Phylogenetics of Fanged Frogs: Testing Biogeographical Hypotheses at the Interface of the Asian and Australian Faunal Zones

Ben J. Evans, Rafe M. Brown, Jimmy A. McGuire, Jatna Supriatna, Noviar Andayani, Arvin Diesmos, Djoko Iskandar, Don J. Melnick, David C. Cannatella

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

191 Citations (Scopus)


The interface of the Asian and Australian faunal zones is defined by a network of deep ocean trenches that separate intervening islands of the Philippines and Wallacea (Sulawesi, the Lesser Sundas, and the Moluccas). Studies of this region by Wallace marked the genesis of the field of biogeography, yet few workers have used molecular methods to investigate the biogeography of taxa whose distribution spans this interface. Some taxa, such as the fanged frogs of the ranid genus Limnonectes, have distributions on either side of the zoogeographical lines of Wallace and Huxley, offering an opportunity to ask how frequently these purported barriers were crossed and by what paths. To examine diversification of Limnonectes in Southeast Asia, the Philippines, and Wallacea, we estimated a phylogeny from mitochondrial DNA sequences obtained from a robust geographic sample. Our analyses suggest that these frogs dispersed from Borneo to the Philippines at least twice, from Borneo to Sulawesi once or twice, from Sulawesi to the Philippines once, and from the Philippines to Sulawesi once. Dispersal to the Moluccas occurred from Sulawesi and to the Lesser Sundas from Java/Bali. Species distributions are generally concordant with Pleistocene aggregate island complexes of the Philippines and with areas of endemism on Sulawesi. We conclude that the recognition of Zoogeographic lines, though insightful, may oversimplify the biogeography of widespread taxa in this region.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)794-819
Number of pages26
JournalSystematic Biology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2003


  • Dispersal
  • Philippines
  • Sulawesi
  • Vicariance
  • Wallace's Line


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