Meeting Abstract

67.6  Saturday, Jan. 5  The impact of taxonomic progress on knowing the Tree of Life: an example from amphibians BLACKBURN, DC*; CANNATELLA, DC; SUKUMARAN, J; WAKE, DB; California Academy of Sciences; University of Texas, Austin; Duke University; University of California, Berkeley david.c.blackburn@gmail.com

Since 1985, taxonomic research on the diversity of living amphibians has increased species diversity by ~60% (from 4014 in 1985 to 7000+ in late 2012). We evaluate the impact of nearly thirty years of species-level taxonomy on our knowledge of the Amphibian Tree of Life. Using a recently published study based on DNA sequence data for nearly 2900 amphibian species, we explore the impact of post-1985 taxonomy (i.e., after the 1985 publication of Amphibian Species of the World, ed. D.R. Frost) on our present-day knowledge of evolutionary relationships and patterns of diversification. We present both qualitative and quantitative comparisons based on phylogenies generated by (1) pruning recently published trees to circa 1985 taxonomy and by (2) reanalyzing matrices in which “post-1985 taxa” are removed from the analysis. We ask to what extent our knowledge of the Amphibian Tree of Life is dependent on taxonomic research and species discovery since 1985. In a general sense, would we have known then what we know now if only we had DNA sequence data in 1985? We highlight analyses based on tree shape statistics that reveal general themes likely true for our present-day understanding of other organisms.