Hybridizing salamanders experience accelerated diversification

Austin H. Patton, Mark J. Margres, Brendan Epstein, Jon Eastman, Luke J. Harmon, Andrew Storfer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Whether hybridization generates or erodes species diversity has long been debated, but to date most studies have been conducted at small taxonomic scales. Salamanders (order Caudata) represent a taxonomic order in which hybridization plays a prevalent ecological and evolutionary role. We employed a recently developed model of trait-dependent diversification to test the hypothesis that hybridization impacts the diversification dynamics of species that are currently hybridizing. We find strong evidence supporting this hypothesis, showing that hybridizing salamander lineages have significantly greater net-diversification rates than non-hybridizing lineages. This pattern is driven by concurrently increased speciation rates and decreased extinction rates in hybridizing lineages. Our results support the hypothesis that hybridization can act as a generative force in macroevolutionary diversification.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number6566
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Adam Leaché, David Weisrock & Maria Servedio for comments on earlier versions of the manuscript. We also thank Daniel Caetano, Josef Uyeda, Rosana Zenil-Ferguson and Jeremy Beaulieu for insightful discussions regarding the study and for technical advice. The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare. This work was supported by NSF DEB-1316549 AS, NSF DEB 1208912 to LJH, and the WSU School of Biological Sciences Elling Endowment Fund to AHP.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, The Author(s).


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