Phenotypes in phylogeography: Species' traits, environmental variation, and vertebrate diversification

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Almost 30 y ago, the field of intraspecific phylogeography laid the foundation for spatially explicit and genealogically informed studies of population divergence. With new methods and markers, the focus in phylogeography shifted to previously unrecognized geographic genetic variation, thus reducing the attention paid to phenotypic variation in those same diverging lineages. Although phenotypic differences among lineages once provided the main data for studies of evolutionary change, the mechanisms shaping phenotypic differentiation and their integration with intraspecific genetic structure have been underexplored in phylogeographic studies. However, phenotypes are targets of selection and play important roles in species performance, recognition, and diversification. Here, we focus on three questions. First, how can phenotypes elucidate mechanisms underlying concordant or idiosyncratic responses of vertebrate species evolving in shared landscapes? Second, what mechanisms underlie the concordance or discordance of phenotypic and phylogeographic differentiation? Third, how can phylogeography contribute to our understanding of functional phenotypic evolution? We demonstrate that the integration of phenotypic data extends the reach of phylogeography to explain the origin and maintenance of biodiversity. Finally, we stress the importance of natural history collections as sources of high-quality phenotypic data that span temporal and spatial axes.

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Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

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