J Syst Evol ›› 2023, Vol. 61 ›› Issue (2): 253-272.DOI: 10.1111/jse.12917

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

The Pyrenees as a cradle of plant diversity: phylogeny, phylogeography and niche modeling of Saxifraga longifolia

Fernando Pomeda‐Gutiérrez1*, María Begoña García2, María Leo3,4,5, Mario Fernández‐Mazuecos4,6, Mostafa Lamrani Alaoui7, Anass Terrab8, and Pablo Vargas1*   

  1. 1 Departamento de Biodiversidad y Conservación, Real Jardín Botánico(RJB-CSIC), Plaza de Murillo 2, 28014 Madrid, Spain
    2 Instituto Pirenaico de Ecología(IPE-CSIC), Avda. Montañana 10005, 50059 Zaragoza, Spain
    3 Departamento de Biogeografía y Cambio Global, Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales(MNCN-CSIC), Calle Pinar 25, 28006 Madrid, Spain
    4 Departamento de Biología(Botánica), Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Calle Darwin 2, 28049 Madrid, Spain
    5 Grupo de Investigación de Ecología y Conservación de Ecosistemas Terrestres(TEG-UAM), Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Calle Darwin 2, 28049 Madrid, Spain
    6 Centro de Investigación en Biodiversidad y Cambio Global(CIBC-UAM), Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Calle Darwin 2, 28049 Madrid, Spain
    7 Ecole Nationale Forestière d'Ingénieurs, B. P. 511-11 000 Tabriquet, Salé, Morocco
    8 Departamento de Biología Vegetal y Ecología, Universidad de Sevilla, Calle San Fernando 4, 41004 Sevilla, Spain
    *Author for correspondence. Fernando Pomeda‐Gutiérrez. E‐mail: pomeda.gutierrez@hotmail.com; Pablo Vargas. E‐mail: vargas@rjb.csic.es
  • Received:2022-03-29 Accepted:2022-09-12 Online:2022-09-23 Published:2023-03-01

Abstract: The current distribution of most species results from ecological niche, past distribution, and migrations during glacial–interglacial periods and in situ evolution. Here, we disentangle the colonization history of Saxifraga longifolia Lapeyr., a limestone plant abundant in the Pyrenees and rare in other Iberian mountains and the African Atlas. Our working hypothesis is that the current distribution results from the shrinkage of a more extensive distribution in previous cold periods. We sampled 160 individuals of 32 populations across the whole distribution range and sequenced four DNA regions (rpl32-trnL, rps16-trnQ, trnS-trnG, and ITS). Ecological conditions were modeled to identify factors promoting high genetic diversity and long-term persistence areas for S. longifolia. In addition, we inferred phylogenetic relationships, phylogeographic divergence, genetic diversity, and migration routes. Seven plastid haplotypes were found, of which six occur in the Pyrenees and one in the High Atlas (Morocco). Discrete phylogeographic analysis (DPA) estimated migration routes predominantly from the Pyrenees to the other areas. Colonization events to those areas appear to have taken place recently given that the rest of the Iberian mountains do not harbor exclusive haplotypes. Iberian–Northern African distribution was inferred to be the result of long-distance dispersal because the split between Iberian and High Atlas haplotypes is estimated to have taken place in the last 4 million years ago when the Strait of Gibraltar was already open. Migrations from the Pyrenees to the south may have been favored by a corridor of predominant limestone rocks along Eastern Iberia, followed by successful overcoming the Strait of Gibraltar to reach northern Africa.

Key words: high atlas, long-term persistence areas, Mediterranean basin, mountain flora, Quaternary, Saxifragaceae, species distribution model, Strait of Gibraltar