• Research Articles •

### Ecological specialization promotes diversity and diversification in the Eastern Mediterranean genus Ricotia (Brassicaceae)

Barış Özüdoğru1,2*, Çağaşan Karacaoğlu1, Galip Akaydın3, Sadık Erik1, Klaus Mummenhoff2†, and İsmail Kudret Sağlam4†*

1. 1Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, Hacettepe University, Beytepe, Ankara 06800, Turkey

2Department of Biology Education, Faculty of Education, Hacettepe University, Beytepe, Ankara 06800, Turkey

3Department of Biology/Botany, University of Osnabrück, Barbarastraße 11, D-49076 Osnabrück, Germany

4Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, College of Sciences, Koç University

34450 Istanbul/Turkey

• Received:2020-09-22 Accepted:2021-04-02 Online:2021-04-07

Abstract: Despite its amazing biodiversity, the Eastern Mediterranean remains a highly understudied region when compared with the Western Mediterranean, restricting our understanding of diversity across the entire Mediterranean. Here we use a combination of molecular markers and presence/absence data from all species of the Eastern Mediterranean genus Ricotia collected across its full geographic range to determine historical, ecological, and evolutionary factors responsible for lineage-specific diversification in the Eastern Mediterranean. Network analysis based on molecular data revealed a high genetic structure within all lineages, and phylogenetic reconstructions based on the multispecies coalescent showed that within-lineage diversification corresponded to the onset of the Mediterranean climate. Reconstruction of ancestral histories indicates that the genus originated within Anatolia and spread across the Eastern Mediterranean and Levant using the Taurus mountains. Ecological niche models suggest that local populations did not go through any major distributional shifts and have persisted in present-day habitats since the Last Glacial Maximum. Furthermore, niche differentiation tests revealed significant differences between closely related species and showed the main variables predicting species limits to be different for each species. Our results give crucial information on the patterns and processes shaping diversity in the Eastern Mediterranean and show the main factors promoting diversification to be local environmental dynamics and ecological specialization and not large-scale latitudinal movements, as often reported for southern Europe. By determining local and regional patterns of diversification in an Eastern Mediterranean genus, we further our understanding of the major trends influencing plant diversity in the Mediterranean basin as a whole.