JOURNAL ARTICLE

Diversification and biogeography of the Neotropical caviomorph lineage Octodontoidea (Rodentia: Hystricognathi)

Nathan S Upham, Bruce D Patterson
Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 2012, 63 (2): 417-29
22327013
The rodent superfamily Octodontoidea comprises 6 families, 38 genera, and 193 living species of spiny rats, tuco-tucos, degus, hutias, and their relatives. All are endemic to the Neotropical Region where they represent roughly three-quarters of extant caviomorphs. Although caviomorph monophyly is well established and phylogenetic hypotheses exist for several families, understanding of octodontoid relationships is clouded by sparse taxon sampling and single-gene analyses. We examined sequence variation in one mitochondrial (12S rRNA) and three nuclear genes (vWF, GHR, and RAG1) across all caviomorph families (including 47 octodontoid species), all phiomorph families, and the sole remaining hystricognath family, using the gundi (Ctenodactylus) and springhaas (Pedetes) as outgroups. Our analyses support the monophyly of Phiomorpha, Caviomorpha, and the caviomorph superfamilies Cavioidea (Dasyproctidae, Cuniculidae, and Caviidae, the latter including Hydrochoerus), Erethizontoidea, Chinchilloidea (including Dinomyidae), and Octodontoidea. Cavioids and erethizontoids are strongly supported as sisters, whereas chinchilloids appear to be sister to octodontoids. Among octodontoids, Abrocomidae is consistently recovered as the basal element, sister to a pair of strongly supported clades; one includes Octodontidae and Ctenomyidae as reciprocally monophyletic lineages, whereas the other includes taxa currently allocated to Echimyidae, Capromyidae and Myocastoridae. Capromys appears near the base of this clade, in keeping with current classification, but Myocastor is nested securely inside a clade of Echimyidae that also contains eumysopines, echimyines and dactylomyines. Another, more weakly supported clade of Echimyidae contains fossorial and scansorial taxa from the Chaco-Cerrado-Caatinga and the Atlantic Forest. Biogeographic analyses robustly recover the Patagonia-Southern Andes complex as ancestral for the Octodontoidea, with three component lineages emerging by the Oligocene-Miocene boundary (∼23Ma): (1) stem abrocomids in the Central and Southern Andes; (2) a lineage leading to octodontids plus ctenomyids in Patagonia, later dispersing into the Chaco-Cerrado-Caatinga; and (3) a lineage leading to echimyids, capromyids, and myocastorids that subsequently radiated in more mesic biomes, including Amazonia, Atlantic Forest, and the Antilles. This reconstruction refutes earlier ideas that the diverse, generalized, mainly lowland family Echimyidae, which appears early in the fossil record, gave rise to the Andean lineages of octodontoids-instead, the reverse derivation appears to be true. We recommend formal synonymy of Myocastoridae with Echimyidae but defer a similar treatment of Capromyidae until additional hutia taxa and sequences can be analyzed.

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