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Reassessment of phylogeographical structure in an eastern North American tree using Monmonier’s algorithm and ecological niche modelling

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Abstract Aim 

Patterns of phylogeographical diversity in eastern North America have been well documented, with suggestions of Pleistocene refugia in both coastal and interior regions. However, most studies to date have assessed these patterns only qualitatively, largely through visual observation of haplotype networks. Furthermore, many plant studies use only one or two individuals per locality, which probably limits the recovery of haplotype diversity. The aim of this study is to address the issues of sampling strategy and quantitative assessment of phylogeographical patterns in an eastern North American tree, Fagus grandifolia (American beech). Location 

Eastern North America. Methods 

Comparing two sampling strategies (more localities with lower sample size within localities versus fewer localities with increased sample size within localities), we analysed chloroplast DNA sequence data from more than 230 individuals across 130 localities using statistical parsimony, maximum parsimony, maximum likelihood and Bayesian analyses. We then assessed support for inferred phylogenetic relationships using Monmonier’s algorithm and analysis of molecular variance. As an additional test of biogeographic hypotheses, we employed ecological niche models (ENMs), which are used to predict the geographic range of a species from occurrence data and environmental records. Here we predict both present and palaeodistributions. Results 

More haplotypes were recovered when more localities were sampled, but novel haplotypes and haplotype distributions were recovered using both strategies. Phylogeographical patterns suggest possible Pleistocene refugia along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts according to ENMs, as well as a more interior refugium according to Monmonier’s algorithm. Main conclusions 

Monmonier’s algorithm supports previous findings of an interior refugium in the Lower Mississippi River Valley/Upper Midwest, while ENMs indicate that the Gulf and Atlantic coasts may have provided the most suitable habitat for F. grandifolia during the Pleistocene. Our findings allow us to highlight the strengths and weaknesses of the two approaches. We propose that future phylogeographical studies should follow a step-wise sampling strategy, balancing cost and expected outcomes.
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Keywords: Chloroplast DNA; Fagus grandifolia; Monmonier’s algorithm; Pleistocene refugium; eastern North America; ecological niche modelling; phylogeography

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Ecology and Evolution, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY 11794, USA 2: Department of Biology, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA 3: Florida Museum of Natural History, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA

Publication date: 2010-09-01

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