Relative to South America’s ecoregions, the temperate grasslands of the Pampas have been poorly studied from a phylogeographic perspective. Based on an intermediate biogeographic setting between subtropical forest (Atlantic Forest) and arid ecosystems (Chaco and Patagonia), Pampean species are expected to show unstable demographic histories due to the Quaternary climatic oscillations. Herein, we investigate the phylogenetic relatedness and phylogeographic history of Pseudopaludicola falcipes, a small and common frog that is widely distributed across the Pampean grasslands. First, we use molecular data to assess if P. falcipes represents a single or multiple, separately evolving cryptic lineages. Because P. falcipes is a small-size species (<20 mm) with extensive coloration and morphological variation, we suspected that it might represent a complex of cryptic species. In addition, we expected strong genetic and geographic structuring within Pseudopaludicola falcipes due to its large geographic distribution, potentially short dis- persal distances, and multiple riverine barriers. We found that P. falcipes is a single evolutionary lineage with poor geographic structuring. Furthermore, current populations of P. falcipes have a large effective population size, maintain ancestral polymorphisms, and have a complex network of gene flow. We conclude that the demographic history of P. falcipes, combined with its ecological attributes and the landscape features of the Pampas, favored a unique combination among anurans of small body size, large population size, high genetic variability, but high cohesiveness of populations over a wide geographic distribution.

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