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Intraspecific patterns of European mountain plants: a morphometric analysis confirms molecular results in the submediterranean oreophyte Anthyllis montana L. (Fabaceae)

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Relationships among 231 individuals of Anthyllis montana L. (Fabaceae) throughout its European and North-African distribution range were studied, evaluating 41 morphological characters in a multivariate way. The morphometric data revealed two major groups representing the western and eastern part of the species' distribution range. This pattern was basically congruent in all morphometric and previous molecular (AFLP) analyses. Further geographical structuring within the western or the eastern lineage was not obvious from the morphological data. Contradictory to molecular results, plants from the Alpes Maritimes/Liguria region clearly formed part of the western group in the morphometric analysis. The two A. montana lineages uncovered might be best described at subspecific rank, the western subsp. montana and the eastern subsp. jacquinii (A. Kern.) Hayek. Morphological discrimination between subspecies was mainly based on floral characters, and hence, subspecies montana is characterised by larger flowers, i.e., longer petals and calyx tubes. Within each of the two subspecies, regression analyses revealed correlations between vegetative traits and altitudinal as well as latitudinal origin, indicating plastic growth of A. montana modified by climatic conditions. Overall, a striking decoupling of floral and vegetative characters was noted. Therefore, the maintenance of floral differences between the two subspecies of A. montana after their Late Pleistocene separation might have persisted due to differences in pollination biology.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Institute of Botany, Department of Integrative Biology and Biodiversity Research, University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences, Gregor-Mendel-Str. 33, 1180 Vienna, Austria

Publication date: 2008-05-01

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