The shifting landscape of genes since the Pliocene: terrestrial phylogeography in the Greater Cape Floristic Region

Krystal A. Tolley, Rauri C.K. Bowie, G. John Measey, Benjamin W. Price and Félix Forest

in Fynbos

Published in print September 2014 | ISBN: 9780199679584
Published online October 2014 | e-ISBN: 9780191791949 | DOI:
The shifting landscape of genes since the Pliocene: terrestrial phylogeography in the Greater Cape Floristic Region

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Present day genetic diversity within the Greater Cape Floristic Region (GCFR) is attributed to diversification during the Pliocene (5–2.5 Ma) and Pleistocene (2.5 Ma–20,000), due to the substantial phylogeographic structuring in many taxa examined, including plants, invertebrates, amphibians, reptiles, mammals, and birds. Diversification on this timescale is relatively recent, and the result is characteristically shallow genetic lineages, recently radiated species, and species complexes. Most phylogeographic structure is attributed to diversification events in the Late Miocene and Pliocene, often associated with recently diverged species which are usually reciprocally monophyletic but exhibit shallow divergences. More recent diversification events date to the Pleistocene, but these appear to be either divergence events among populations within species, or in some cases between species that are not reciprocally monophyletic and share ancestral polymorphisms. Discrete geographic boundaries among these clades are sometimes blurred, with alleles or haplotypes shared across some geographic regions or habitat types. Across the entire region, genetic diversity appears to be higher in the western GCFR, as compared to the east. This is possibly explained by the high stability of the region, and the associated potential for multiple refugia in the west. Regardless, the finer-scale patterns are not congruent among major groups, i.e. plants, invertebrates, amphibians, reptiles, mammals and birds, or within them, suggesting that there is no set of common environmental factors that can explain the phylogeographic patterns and cladogenesis in the GCFR. Instead, species presumably respond differentially depending on their habitat requirements, life history, and adaptive potential.

Keywords: phylogeography; cladogenesis; genetic diversity; Greater Cape Floristic Region; Pliocene; diversification; geographic boundaries; refugia

Chapter.  17328 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Animal Pathology and Diseases

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