While salamanders have a predominantly north-temperate distribution, one of the most stunning radiations of species occurred in the only group to significantly penetrate the tropics, the bolitoglossines. Biogeographic hypotheses for the group have evolved as a result of the discovery of new species and lineages, from approximately 30 species in a single genus in 1926 to nearly 300 species in 14 genera today. Molecular phylogenies provide an important tool with which to test long-standing biogeographic hypotheses. Divergence dating analyses and parametric biogeographic analyses, together with a changing understanding of the taxonomy of the bolitoglossines and new geological evidence from Mesoamerica, call into question several long-standing hypotheses related to the arrival and diversification of the bolitoglossines in Central and South America. We briefly review the geology of Mesoamerica, with an emphasis on regions of high salamander diversity, and discuss how molecular phylogenies and new species discoveries have changed our perception of the history of this salamander radiation.

You do not currently have access to this content.