Phylogeography and cryptic diversity of the solitary-dwelling silvery mole-rat, genus **Heliophobius** (family: Bathyergidae)
Faculty of Sciences. Biology
Journal of zoology. - London
, p. 324-338
University of Antwerp
Alongside the eusocial naked mole-rat, Heterocephalus glaber, Heliophobius argenteocinereus represents the second oldest lineage within the African mole-rat family Bathyergidae, and phylogenetically intermediate between the East African Het. glaber and the South African genera Bathyergus and Georychus. Across its geographic range, Hel.. argenteocinereus is widely distributed on both sides of the East African Rift System (EARS), and is a key taxon for understanding the phylogeographic patterns of divergence of the family as a whole. Phylogenetic analysis of 62 mitochondrial cyt b sequences, representing 48 distinct haplotypes from 26 geographic locations across the range of Heliophobius, consistently and robustly resolved six genetically divergent clades that we recognize as distinct evolutionary species. Early species descriptions of Heliophobius were synonymized into a monotypic taxonomy that recognized only Hel. argentocinereus. These synonyms constitute available names for these rediscovered cryptic lineages, for which combined morphological and genetic evidence for topotypical populations endorses the recognition of six to eight distinct taxa. Bayesian estimates of divergence times using the fossil Proheliophobius as a calibration for the molecular clock suggest that the adaptive radiation of the genus began in the early Miocene, and that cladogenesis, represented in the extant species, reflects a strident signature of tectonic activity that forged the principal graben in the EARS.