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Contrasting phylogeographies inferred for the two alpine sister species Cardamine resedifolia and C. alpina (Brassicaceae)

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Abstract Aim 

We use Cardamine alpina and C. resedifolia as models to address the detailed history of disjunctions in the European alpine system. These species grow on siliceous bedrock: C. alpina in the Alps and Pyrenees, and C. resedifolia in several mountain ranges from the Sierra Nevada to the Balkans. We explore differentiation among their disjunct populations as well as within the contiguous Alpine and Pyrenean ranges, and compare the phylogeographical histories of these diploid sister species. We also include samples of the closely related, arctic diploid C. bellidifolia in order to explore its origin and post-glacial establishment. Location 

European alpine system, Norway and Iceland. Methods 

We employed amplified fragment length polymorphisms (AFLPs). AFLP data were analysed using principal coordinates analysis, neighbour joining and Bayesian clustering, and measures of diversity and differentiation were computed. Results 

For the snow-bed species C. alpina (27 populations, 203 plants) we resolved two strongly divergent lineages, corresponding to the Alps and the Pyrenees. Although multiple glacial refugia were invoked in the Pyrenees, we inferred only a single one in the Maritime Alps – from which rapid post-glacial colonization of the entire Alps occurred, accompanied by a strong founder effect. For C. resedifolia (33 populations, 247 plants), which has a broader ecological amplitude and a wider distribution, the genetic structuring was rather weak and did not correspond to the main geographical disjunctions. This species consists of two widespread and largely sympatric main genetic groups (one of them subdivided into four geographically more restricted groups), and frequent secondary contacts exist between them. Main conclusions 

The conspicuously different histories of these two sister species are likely to be associated with their different ecologies. The more abundant habitats available for C. resedifolia may have increased the probability of its gradual migration during colder periods and also of successful establishment after long-distance dispersal, whereas C. alpina has been restricted by its dependence on snow-beds. Surprisingly, the arctic C. bellidifolia formed a very divergent lineage with little variation, contradicting a scenario of recent, post-glacial migration from the Alps or Pyrenees.

Keywords: AFLP; Alps; Cardamine; Corsica; Pleistocene glaciations; Pyrenees; disjunction; genetic diversity; phylogeography; vicariance

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: National Centre for Biosystematics, Natural History Museum, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway

Publication date: January 1, 2009


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