Taxa with vast distribution ranges often display unresolved phylogeographic structures and unclear taxonomic boundaries resulting into hidden diversity. This hypothesis-driven study reveals the evolutionary history of Bufonidae, covering the phylogeographic patterns found in Holarctic bufonids from the West Gondwana to the phylogenetic taxonomy of Asiatic true toads in the Eastern Palearctic. We used an integrative approach relying on fossilised birth-death calibrations, population dynamic, gene-flow, species distribution and species delimitation modelling to resolve the biogeography of the clade and highlight cryptic lineages. We verified the near-simultaneous Miocene radiations within Western and Eastern Palearctic Bufo, c. 14.49 – 10.00 Mya, temporally matching with the maximum dust outflows in Central Asian deserts. Contrary to earlier studies, we demonstrated that the combined impacts of long dispersal and ice-age refugia equally contributed to the current genetic structure of Bufo in East Asia. Our findings reveal a climate-driven adaptation in septentrional Eastern Asian Bufo, explained its range shifts towards northern latitudes. We resolve species boundaries within the Eastern Palearctic Bufo, and redefine the taxonomic and conservation units of the northeastern species: B. sachalinensis and its subspecies.
- Bufo sp.
- Central Asian desertification
- Continental collision
- East Palearctic
- Fossilised birth death calibration
- Ice age refugia
- Taxonomic resolution