Papers in the Biological Sciences


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Published in Biology Letters 2:3 (September 22, 2006), pp. 388–392; doi: 10.1098/rsbl.2006.0473 PMCID: PMC1686176 Copyright © 2006 The Royal Society. Used by permission.


Darwin first recognized the importance of episodic intercontinental dispersal in the establishment of worldwide biotic diversity. Faunal exchange across the Bering Land Bridge is a major example of such dispersal. Here, we demonstrate with mitochondrial DNA evidence that three independent dispersal events from Asia to North America are the source for almost all lizard taxa found in continental eastern North America. Two other dispersal events across Beringia account for observed diversity among North American ranid frogs, one of the most species-rich groups of frogs in eastern North America. The contribution of faunal elements from Asia via dispersal across Beringia is a dominant theme in the historical assembly of the eastern North American herpetofauna.

Includes Supplementary Data tables.

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