© 2015 Elsevier Inc. The hypothesis that endemic species could have originated by the isolation and divergence of peripheral populations of widespread species can be tested through the use of ecological niche models (ENMs) and statistical phylogeography. The joint use of these tools provides complementary perspectives on historical dynamics and allows testing hypotheses regarding the origin of endemic taxa. We used this approach to infer the historical processes that have influenced the origin of a species endemic to the Mexican Plateau (. Cynomys mexicanus) and its divergence from a widespread ancestor (Cynomys ludovicianus), and to test whether this endemic species originated through peripatric speciation. We obtained genetic data for 295 individuals for two species of black-tailed prairie dogs (C. ludovicianus and C. mexicanus). Genetic data consisted of mitochondrial DNA sequences (cytochrome b and control region), and 10 nuclear microsatellite loci. We estimated dates of divergence between species and between lineages within each species and performed ecological niche modelling (Present, Last Glacial Maximum and Last Interglacial) to determine changes in the distribution range of both species during the Pleistocene. Finally, we used Bayesian inference methods (DIYABC) to test different hypotheses regarding the divergence and demographic history of these species. Data supported the hypothesis of the origin of C. mexicanus from a peripheral population isolated during the Pleistocene [~230,000. years ago (0.1-0.43. Ma 95% HPD)], with a Pleistocene-Holocene (~9000-11,000. years ago) population expansion (~10-fold increase in population size). We identified the presence of two possible refugia in the southern area of the distribution range of C. ludovicianus and another, consistent with the distribution range of C. mexicanus. Our analyses suggest that Pleistocene climate change had a strong impact in the distribution of these species, promoting peripatric speciation for the origin of C. mexicanus and lineage divergence within C. ludovicianus.