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Historical biogeography of the endemic Campanulaceae of Crete

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Abstract Aim 

The clade Campanulaceae in the Cretan area is rich in endemics, with c. 50% of its species having restricted distributions. These species are analysed in the context of a larger phylogeny of the Campanulaceae. Divergence times are calculated and hypotheses of vicariance and dispersal are tested with the aim of understanding whether Cretan lineages represent remnants of an older continental flora. Location 

The Cretan area: Crete and the Karpathos Islands (Greece). Methods 

We obtained chloroplast DNA sequence data from rbcL, atpB and matK genes for 102 ingroup taxa, of which 18 are from the Cretan area, 11 are endemics, and two have disjunct, bi-regional distributions. We analysed the data usingbeast, a Bayesian approach that simultaneously infers the phylogeny and divergence times. We calibrated the tree by placing a seed fossil in the phylogeny, and used published age estimates as a prior for the root. Results 

The phylogenetic reconstruction shows that all Campanula species fall within a well-supported campanuloid clade; however, Campanula is highly polyphyletic. The Cretan endemics do not form a monophyletic group, and species are scattered throughout the campanuloid clade. Therefore, the Cretan taxa did not evolve following a single vicariance or dispersal event. Most Cretan lineages represent remnants of an older continental flora, with the exception of one clade that radiated in situ after island isolation, and one lineage that appears to have arrived by dispersal. Main conclusions 

Most Cretan species were present in the islands at the time of their isolation, and very little long-distance dispersal to Crete and diversification within Crete has occurred since then. Endemism is probably driven by loss of species on the mainland after island isolation. Species on the islands may have been more widespread in the past, but they are now restricted to often inaccessible areas, probably as a result of human pressure.

Keywords: Campanulaceae; Crete; beast; dating; dispersal; endemics; historical biogeography; molecular phylogeny; relicts; vicariance

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, Durham, NC 2: Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Brown University, Providence, RI, USA 3: Department of Molecular Biology (VI), Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology, Tübingen, Germany 4: Section of Integrative Biology and Institute of Cellular and Molecular Biology, University of Texas, Austin, TX, USA 5: Botany Department, Natural History Museum of Crete, University of Crete, Heraklion, Greece 6: Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA

Publication date: 2009-07-01

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