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Radiation following long‐distance dispersal: the contributions of time, opportunity and diaspore morphology in Sicyos (Cucurbitaceae)

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Aim  To infer the most plausible explanations for the presence of 14 species of the Neotropical cucurbit genus Sicyos on the Hawaiian Islands, two on the Galápagos Islands, two in Australia, and one in New Zealand.

Location  Neotropics, the Hawaiian and Galápagos archipelagos, Australia and New Zealand.

Methods  We tested long‐problematic generic boundaries in the tribe Sicyoeae and reconstructed the history of Sicyos using plastid and nuclear DNA sequences from 87 species (many with multiple accessions) representing the group’s generic and geographic diversity. Maximum likelihood and Bayesian approaches were used to infer relationships, divergence times, biogeographic history and ancestral traits.

Results  Thirteen smaller genera, including Sechium, are embedded in Sicyos, which when re‐circumscribed as a monophyletic group comprises 75 species. The 14 Hawaiian species of Sicyos descended from a single ancestor that arrived c. 3 million years ago (Ma), Galápagos was reached twice at c. 4.5 and 1 Ma, the species in Australia descended from a Neotropical ancestor (c. 2 Ma), and New Zealand was reached from Australia. Time since arrival thus does not correlate with Sicyos species numbers on the two archipelagos.

Main conclusions  A plausible mechanism for the four trans‐Pacific dispersal events is adherence to birds of the tiny hard fruit with retrorsely barbed spines found in those lineages that underwent long‐distance migrations. The Hawaiian clade has lost these spines, resulting in a lower dispersal ability compared with the Galápagos and Australian lineages, and perhaps favouring allopatric speciation.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Systematic Botany and Mycology, University of Munich (LMU), Menzinger Strasse 67, 80638 Munich, Germany 2: Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA 3: Facultad de Estudios Superiores Iztacala, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Tlalnepantla, C.P. 54090, Mexico 4: School of Environmental and Rural Science, University of New England, Armidale, NSW 2351, Australia

Publication date: 2012-08-01

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