Phylogeography of eastern grey kangaroos, Macropus giganteus, suggests a mesic refugium in eastern Australia

Brett A. Coghlan, Anne W. Goldizen, Vicki A. Thomson, Jennifer M. Seddon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Phylogeographic studies around the world have identified refugia where fauna were able to persist during unsuitable climatic periods, particularly during times of glaciation. In Australia the effects of Pleistocene climate oscillations on rainforest taxa have been well studied but less is known about the effects on mesic-habitat fauna, such as the eastern grey kangaroo (Macropus giganteus). The eastern grey kangaroo is a large mammal that is common and widespread throughout eastern Australia, preferring dry mesic habitat, rather than rainforest. As pollen evidence suggests that the central-eastern part of Australia (southeast Queensland and northern New South Wales) experienced cycles of expansion in mesic habitat with contraction in rainforests, and vice versa during glacial and interglacial periods, respectively, we hypothesise that the distribution of the eastern grey kangaroo was affected by these climate oscillations and may have contracted to mesic habitat refugia. From 375 mitochondrial DNA control region sequences from across the distribution of eastern grey kangaroos we obtained 108 unique haplotypes. Phylogenetic analysis identified two clades in Queensland, one of which is newly identified and restricted to a small coastal region in southern Queensland north of Brisbane, known as the Sunshine Coast. The relatively limited geographic range of this genetically isolated clade suggests the possibility of a mesic habitat refugium forming during rainforest expansion during wetter climate cycles. Other potential, although less likely, reasons for the genetic isolation of the highly distinct clade include geographic barriers, separate northward expansions, and strong local adaptation.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0128160
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalPLoS One
Volume10
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 29 May 2015
Externally publishedYes

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