Understanding the historical dynamics of animal species is critical for accurate prediction of their response to climate changes. During the late Quaternary period, Southeast Asia had a larger land area than today due to lower sea levels, and its terrestrial landscape was covered by extensive forests and savanna. To date, however, the distribution fluctuation of vegetation and its impacts on genetic structure and demographic history of local animals during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) are still disputed. In addition, the responses of animal species on Hainan Island, located in northern Southeast Asia, to climate changes during the LGM are poorly understood. Here, we combined phylogeographic analysis, paleoclimatic evidence, and species distribution models to examine the response of the flightless Hainan Partridge (Arborophila ardens) to climate change. We concluded that A. ardens survived through LGM climate changes, and its current distribution on Hainan Island was its in situ refuge. Range model results indicated that A. ardens once covered a much larger area than its current distribution. Demographic history described a relatively stable pattern during and following the LGM. In addition, weak population genetic structure suggests a role in promoting gene flow between populations with climate-induced elevation shifts. Human activities must be considered in conservation planning due to their impact on fragmented habitats. These first combined data for Hainan Partridge demonstrate the value of paired genetic and SDMs study. More related works that might deepen our understanding of the responses of the species in Southeast Asia to late Quaternary Climate are needed.
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