Phylogenetic relationships of rock-wallabies, Petrogale (Marsupialia: Macropodidae) and their biogeographic history within Australia
The rock-wallaby genus Petrogale comprises a group of habitat-specialist macropodids endemic to Australia. Their restriction to rocky outcrops, with infrequent interpopulation dispersal, has been suggested as the cause of their recent and rapid diversification. Molecular phylogenetic relationships within and among species of Petrogale were analysed using mitochondrial (cytochrome oxidase c subunit 1, cytochrome b, NADH dehydrogenase subunit 2) and nuclear (omega-globin intron, breast and ovarian cancer susceptibility gene)
sequence data with representatives that encompassed the morphological and chromosomal variation within the genus, including for the first time both P. concinna and P. purpureicollis. Four distinct lineages were identified, 1) the brachyotis group, 2) P. persephone, 3) P. xanthopus and 4) the lateralis-penicillata group. Three lineages include taxa with the ancestral karyotype (2n=22). Paraphyletic relationships within the brachyotis group indicate the need for a focused phylogeographic study. There was support for P. purpureicollis being reinstated as a full species and P. concinna being placed within Petrogale rather than in the monotypic genus Peradorcas. Bayesian analyses of divergence times suggest that episodes of diversification commenced in the late Miocene-Pliocene and continued throughout the Pleistocene. Ancestral state reconstructions suggest that Petrogale originated in a mesic environment and dispersed into more arid environments, events that correlate with the timing of radiations in other arid zone vertebrate taxa across Australia.