The Eastern Afromontane biodiversity hotspot (EABH) has the highest concentration of biodiversity in tropical Africa, yet few studies have investigated recent historical diversification processes in EABH lineages. Herein, we analyze restriction-site associated DNA-sequences (RAD-Seq) to study recent historical processes in co-distributed mouse (Hylomyscus) and shrew (Sylvisorex) species complexes, with an aim to better determine how historical paleoenvironmental processes might have contributed to the EABH’s high diversity. We analyzed complete SNP matrices of > 50,000 RAD loci to delineate populations, reconstruct the history of isolation and admixture, and discover geographic patterns of genetic partitioning. These analyses demonstrate that persistently unsuitable habitat may have isolated multiple populations distributed across montane habitat islands in the Itombwe Massif and Albertine Rift to the west as well as Mt Elgon and Kenyan Highlands to the east. We detected low genetic diversity in Kenyan Highland populations of both genera, consistent with smaller historical population sizes in this region. We additionally tested predictions that Albertine Rift populations are older and more persistently isolated compared to the Kenyan Highlands. Phylogenetic analyses support greater historical isolation among Albertine Rift populations of both shrews and mice compared to the Kenyan Highlands and suggest that there are genetically isolated populations from both focal genera in the Itombwe Massif, Democratic Republic of Congo. The Albertine Rift ecoregion has the highest mammalian tropical forest species richness per unit area on earth. Our results clearly support accelerating efforts to conserve this diversity.
Demos, T. C., Kerbis Peterhans, J. C., Joseph, T. A., Robinson, J. D., Agwanda, B. & Hickerson, M. J. (2015). Comparative Population Genomics of African Montane Forest Mammals Support Population Persistence across a Climatic Gradient and Quaternary Climatic Cycles. PLoS ONE, 10(9), e0131800. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0131800.