Background: The phylogenetic relationships of many taxa remain poorly known because of a lack of appropriate data and/or analyses. Despite substantial recent advances, amphibian phylogeny remains poorly resolved in many instances. The phylogenetic relationships of the Ethiopian endemic monotypic genus Ericabatrachus has been addressed thus far only with phenotypic data and remains contentious.
Results: We obtained fresh samples of the now rare and Critically Endangered Ericabatrachus baleensis and generated DNA sequences for two mitochondrial and four nuclear genes. Analyses of these new data using de novo and constrained-tree phylogenetic reconstructions strongly support a close relationship between Ericabatrachus and Petropedetes, and allow us to reject previously proposed alternative hypotheses of a close relationship with cacosternines or Phrynobatrachus.
Conclusions: We discuss the implications of our results for the taxonomy, biogeography and conservation of E. baleensis, and suggest a two-tiered approach to the inclusion and analyses of new data in order to assess the phylogenetic relationships of previously unsampled taxa. Such approaches will be important in the future given the increasing availability of relevant mega-alignments and potential framework phylogenies.
Copyright © 2014 Siu-Ting et al. This article first appeared in BMC Evolutionary Biology 14, no. 1 (March 10, 2014): 44. doi:10.1186/1471-2148-14-44.
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Siu-Ting, Karen, David J. Gower, Davide Pisani, Roman Kassahun, Fikirte Gebresenbet, Michele Menegon, Abebe A. Mengistu, Samy A. Saber, Rafael de Sá, Mark Wilkinson, and Simon P. Loader. "Evolutionary Relationships of the Critically Endangered Frog Ericabatrachus baleensis Largen, 1991 with Notes on Incorporating Previously Unsampled Taxa into Large-scale Phylogenetic Analyses." BMC Evolutionary Biology 14, no. 1 (March 10, 2014): 44. doi:10.1186/1471-2148-14-44.