Phylogenetic relationships and biogeographical history of the genus Rhinoclemmys Fitzinger, 1835, and the monophyly of the turtle family Geoemydidae (Testudines: Testudinoidea).
Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 153: 751-767.
Rhinoclemmys is an interesting genus of rtutles biogeographically and ecologically, being the only genus of the family Geoemydidae that occurs in the New Wc orld and inhabiting a wide range of habitats from aquatic to highly terrestrial. Here we present a molecular phylogeny of Rhinoclemmys using both mitochondrial and nuclear genes. Our results strongly support the monophyletiand subfamilial status of Rhinoclemmys within the monophyletic family Geoemydidae. Within RhinoclemR. areolata + R. punctularia + R. diademata + R. funerea + R. melanosterna, but the positions of R. nasuta and R. rubida are still weakly supported. In terms of the biogeographical history, the results of this study, coupled withmys, two clades are strongly supported, i.e. R. annulata + R. pulcherrima and palaeontological evidence, corroborate the hypothesis that this group migrated from Asia to the Americas across the Bering Strait during the early Eocene. The radiation of Rhinoclemmys in Central and South America corresponds well with vicariance events, including the emergence of the Sierra Madres of Mexico and the Nuclear Highland, and dispersals across the Panama land bridge. Interestingly, our resulting phylogeny suggests this group invaded South America at least four times and that dispersal of R. nasuta to South America probably took place in the early Miocene before the emergence of the Isthmus of Panama. We finally discuss our phylogenetic results with regard to the monophyly of the family Geoemydidae and in the context of previous morphological analyses.