Hypotheses to explain phylogeographic structure traditionally invoke geographic features, but often fail to provide a general explanation for spatial patterns of genetic variation. Organisms' intrinsic characteristics might play more important roles than landscape features in determining phylogeographic structure. We developed a novel comparative approach to explore the role of ecological and life-history variables in determining spatial genetic variation and tested it on frog communities in Panama. We quantified spatial genetic variation within 31 anuran species based on mitochondrial DNA sequences, for which hierarchical approximate Bayesian computation analyses rejected simultaneous divergence over a common landscape. Regressing ecological variables, on genetic divergence allowed us to test the importance of individual variables revealing that body size, current landscape resistance, geographic range, biogeographic origin and reproductive mode were significant predictors of spatial genetic variation. Our results support the idea that phylogeographic structure represents the outcome of an interaction between organisms and their environment, and suggest a conceptual integration we refer to as trait-based phylogeography.
Paz, A., Ibáñez, R., Lips, K. R., & Crawford, A. J. (2015). Testing the role of ecology and life history in structuring genetic variation across a landscape: A trait-based phylogeographic approach. Molecular Ecology, 24(14), 3723–3737. https://doi.org/10.1111/mec.13275