Abstract Detail

Ericaceae: Systematics, Ecology and Evolution

Pirie, Michael D. [1], Kandziora, Martha [2], Nürk, Nicolai [3], Le Maitre, Nicholas [4], Mugrabi de Kuppler, Ana [5], Gehrke, Berit [1], Oliver, E. G. H. [6], Bellstedt, Dirk [7].

Leaps and bounds: geographical and ecological distance constrained the colonisation of the Afrotemperate by Erica.

The coincidence of long distance dispersal and biome shift is assumed to be the result of a multifaceted interplay between geographical distance and ecological suitability of source and sink areas. Here, we test the influence of these factors on the dispersal history of the flowering plant genus Erica (Ericaceae) across the Afrotemperate. We quantify similarity of Erica climate niches per biogeographic area using direct observations of species, and test various colonisation scenarios while estimating ancestral areas for the Erica clade using parametric biogeographic model testing. We infer that the overall dispersal history of Erica across the Afrotemperate is the result of infrequent colonisation limited by geographic proximity and/or niche similarity. However, the Drakensberg Mountains represent a colonisation sink, rather than acting as a “stepping stone” between more distant and ecologically dissimilar Cape and Tropical African regions; and strikingly, the most dramatic examples of species radiations in Erica were the result of single unique dispersals over longer distances between ecologically dissimilar areas, contradicting the rule of phylogenetic biome conservatism. These results highlight the importance of rare biome shifts, in which a unique dispersal event fuels evolutionary radiations.

1 - Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz, Institut für Organismische und Molekulare Evolutionsbiologie, Mainz, 55099, Germany
2 - University of California, Merced, Life and Environmental Science, Merced, CA, 95340, USA
3 - University of Bayreuth, Institute of Plant Systematics, Bayreuth, 95447, Germany
4 - Stellenbosch University, Biochemistry, Stellenbosch University, Private Bag X1, Matieland, Stellenbosch, WC, 7600, South Africa
5 - Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn, INRES Pflanzenzüchtung, Bonn, 53115, Germany
6 - University of Stellenbosch, Department of Botany and Zoology, South Africa
7 - University of Stellenbosch, Department of Biochemistry, South Africa

historical biogeography
phylogenetic biome conservatism
Cape Floristic Region
climatic niche shift
model testing.

Presentation Type: Colloquium Presentations
Abstract ID:228
Candidate for Awards:None

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