Subspecies is a debated taxonomic rank that, in some cases, could indicate that a speciation process is taking place. Studying the degree of co-occurrence among subspecies along environmental gradients may help to determine its taxonomic status. In this study, we explore the distribution of two subspecies of Canthon rutilans
along spatio-temporal and temperature gradients in the Atlantic Forest of southern Brazil in order to reinforce their current subspecies status or to support their consideration as two different species. A yearly survey conducted along an elevational transect (from 250 m to 1630 m) shows that there is no spatio-temporal overlap between the two taxa. We collected 899 individuals of Canthon rutilans cyanescens
and 29 individuals of Canthon rutilans rutilans
. C. rutilans cyanescens
can be found at 250 m (all year except in June), 430 m (August to April), and 840 m (September to April) in elevation, and when the air temperature oscillates from 15.3 °C to 24.0 °C. C. rutilans rutilans
can be found at 1360 m (October to February), 1630 m (January) in elevation, and when the air temperature oscillates from 14.4 °C to 18.6 °C. Furthermore, local temperature data taken during the survey indicates that both subspecies also have a limited overlap in their thermal response curves. All these results suggest that these two taxa could be considered as two different species with dissimilar physiological and ecological requirements probably as a consequence of temperature-mediated divergent adaptation. Further molecular data can confirm or reject this supposition in the near future.
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