Cophyline narrow-mouthed frogs (Anura: Microhylidae) are a diverse endemic radiation of Madagascar. Cophylines contain a high proportion of range restricted species and constitute a good model system to understand patterns of evolutionary diversification in tropical ecosystems. We combine spatial and phylogenetic analyses for a near-complete taxon sample to test competing explanations for patterns of species richness (SR) and endemism. Our reconstruction of the phylogeny of cophylines indicates the presence of 22 new species and several instances of nonmonophyly. We found a strong historical signal in current cophyline ranges indicating a high degree of spatial niche conservatism in clade diversification, with clades occurring in the North of Madagascar constituting the most derived in the phylogeny. We identified six positively correlated centers of SR and endemism that can neither be explained by stochastic models such as elevational or latitudinal mid-domain effect, nor by low-elevation river catchments. Instead, the locations of these centers in areas spanning a high altitudinal range in combination with specific climatic parameters support a key role of mountainous areas for speciation of these anurans, although we cannot exclude an influence of habitat loss due to human impact. High conservation priority is ascribed to these areas.
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Vol. 62 • No. 8