Using environmental niche models to test the 'everything is everywhere' hypothesis for Badhamia
It is often discussed whether the biogeography of free-living protists is better explained by the 'everything is everywhere'(EiE) hypothesis, which postulates that only ecology drives their distribution, or by the alternative hypothesis of 'moderate endemicity' in which geographic barriers can limit their dispersal. To formally test this, it would be necessary not only to find organisms restricted to a geographical area but also to check for their presence in any other place with a similar ecology. We propose the use of environmental niche models to generate and test null EiE distributions. Here we have analysed the distribution of 18S rDNA variants (ribotypes) of the myxomycete Badhamia melanospora (belonging to the protozoan phylum Amoebozoa) using 125 specimens from 91 localities. Two geographically structured groups of ribotypes congruent with slight morphological differences in the spores can be distinguished. One group comprises all populations from Argentina and Chile, and the other is formed by populations from North America together with human-introduced populations from other parts of the world. Environmental climatic niche models constructed separately for the two groups have significant differences, but show several overlapping areas. However, only specimens from one group were found in an intensively surveyed area in South America where both niche models overlap. It can be concluded that everything is not everywhere for B. melanospora. This taxon constitutes a complex formed by at least two cryptic species that probably diverged allopatrically in North and South America.