High Incidence of "Leapfrog" Pattern of Geographic Variation in Andean Birds: Implications for the Speciation Process

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Science  13 Apr 1984:
Vol. 224, Issue 4645, pp. 171-173
DOI: 10.1126/science.224.4645.171


Many species of birds in the humid forests of the Andes show a pattern of geographic variation in color that is virtually unknown in other regions of the world. This pattern, here termed "leapfrog," is one in which two populations very similar in appearance are geographically separated from each other by very different, intervening populations of the same species. Approximately 21 percent of all Andean bird species and superspecies with three or more differentiated populations show the leapfrog pattern, and several of these show multiple cases of leapfrogging color patterns. Lack of concordance in the geographic distribution of taxa showing the leapfrog pattern suggests that there is a strongly random component in phenotypic differentiation with respect to direction, geography, and timing.