, Volume 6, Issue 3, pp 451-476

Alternative models of vertebrate speciation in Amazonia: an overview

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Abstract

The main hypotheses proposed to explain barrier formation separating populations and causing the differentiation of vertebrate species in Amazonia are based on different (mostly historical) factors, as follows. (1) Changes in the distribution of land and sea or in the landscape due to tectonic movements or sea-level fluctuations (Paleogeography hypothesis). (2) The barrier effect of Amazonian rivers (River hypothesis). (3) A combination of the barrier effect of broad rivers and vegetational changes in Northern and Southern Amazonia (River-refuge hypothesis). (4) The isolation of forest blocks near areas of surface relief in the periphery of Amazonia during dry climatic periods of the Tertiary and Quaternary (Refuge theory). (5) Competitive species interactions and local species isolations in peripheral regions of Amazonia due to invasion and counterinvasion during cold/warm periods of the Pleistocene (Disturbance-vicariance hypothesis). (6) Parapatric speciation across steep environmental gradients without separation of the representative populations (Gradient hypothesis). Several of these hypotheses are probably relevant to a different degree for the speciation processes in different faunal groups or during different geological periods. The paleogeography hypothesis refers mainly to faunal differentiation during the Tertiary and in combination with the Refuge hypothesis; Milankovitch cycles leading to global climatic-vegetational changes affected the biomes of the world not only during the Pleistocene but also during the Tertiary and earlier geological periods. New geoscientific evidence for the effect of dry climatic periods in Amazonia supports the predictions of the Refuge theory.