August 13th, 2018
By Gitzendanner, Matt
Disjunct distributions have intrigued biologists for centuries. Investigating these biogeographic patterns provides insight into speciation and biodiversity at multiple spatial and phylogenetic scales. Some disjunctions have been intensively studied, yet others have been largely overlooked and remain poorly understood. Among the lesser-known disjunction patterns is that between the mountain ranges of western North America. Flora and fauna endemic to the mountains of this region provide important systems for investigating causes and results of disjunctions, given the relatively recent geological formation of this area and the intense climatic fluctuations that have occurred since its formation. In Micranthes (Saxifragaceae), which has high rates of montane endemism, two species, M. bryophora and M. tolmiei, show this biogeographical pattern. By reconstructing a time-calibrated phylogeny based on 518 low-copy nuclear markers and including multiple populations of each species from the Coast Ranges, Cascades, Sierra Nevada, and Rocky Mountains, this study provides a biogeographical and temporal framework for the evolution of Micranthes in western North America. Strongly supported east-west differentiated clades are recovered for M. bryophora and M. tolmiei in both maximum likelihood and coalescent-based species tree reconstructions. Biogeographic analysis suggests different patterns of dispersal for both taxa and the dating analyses recovered contrasting ages for each clade. Due to both the different geographic patterns and the timing of the initial diversification of each taxon corresponding to different geologic and climatic events, the disjunction patterns shown for these taxa are suggested to be an example of biogeographical pseudocongruence.
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