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Vicariance or dispersal: the use of natural historical data to test competing hypotheses of disjunction on the Tyrrhenian coast

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Abstract:

Aim

To illustrate the use of natural historical data to evaluate vicariance and dispersal as hypotheses competing to explain disjunct populations. Location

Nine disjunct areas on the margin of the Tyrrhenian basin of the Mediterranean Sea. Methods

First describe how each hypothesized mechanism might explain the observed morphological variation in the model species complex, Genista ephedroides (Fabaceae); then confront the hypotheses with natural historical data including geology, oxygen isotopes, palynology, macro-, micro- and nano-fossils, and sea level changes, and with the ecological tolerances of the model species complex. Results

Dispersal seems the more credible explanation. Main conclusion

Patterns of morphological (or other) variation among related disjunct taxa can fit both vicariance and dispersal hypotheses. However they can possibly be distinguished by considering natural historical data.

Keywords: Genista; Mediterranean; Pleistocene; Tyrrhenian; Vicariance; compatibility; dispersal; natural history

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Professor of Botany, The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1048, USA. Email:, Email: estabrook@umich.edu

Publication date: January 1, 2001

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