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Toward a trait-based comparative phylogeography

For three decades, comparative phylogeography has conceptually and methodologically relied on the concordance criterion for providing insights into the historical/biogeographic processes driving population genetic structure and divergence. This emphasis, and the corresponding lack of methods for extracting information about biotic/intrinsic contributions to patterns of genetic variation, may bias our general understanding of the factors driving genetic structure. Specifically, this emphasis has promoted a tendency to attribute discordant phylogeographic patterns to the idiosyncracies of history, as well as an adherence to generic null expectations of concordance with reduced predictive power. A paradigm shift in this comparative phylogeography is proposed, especially given the limited utility of the concordance criterion as genomic data provide ever-increasing levels of resolution. Instead of adhering to the concordance-discordance dichotomy, comparative phylogeography needs to emphasize the contribution of taxon-specific traits that will determine whether concordance is a meaningful criterion for evaluating hypotheses or may predict discordant phylogeographic structure. Through some case studies it is illustrate how refined hypotheses based on taxon-specific traits can provide improved predictive frameworks to forecast species responses to climatic change or biogeographic barriers while gaining unique insights about the taxa themselves and their interactions with their environment. Aa potential avenue toward a synthetic comparative phylogeographic paradigm is outlined that includes addressing some important conceptual and methodological challenges related to study design and application of model-based approaches for evaluating support of trait-based hypotheses under the proposed paradigm. informacion[at] Papadopoulou & Knowles (2016) Toward a paradigm shift in comparative phylogeography driven by trait-based hypotheses. PNAS. Doi 10.1073/pnas.1601069113
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