Southern European glacial refugia: A tale of tales

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Interpretations of current diversity patterns based on the contraction/expansion model forced by climatic oscillations during the last two million years are commonplace in phylogeographic literature. Of the wealth of scientific studies accumulated during the past two decades in Europe, the ones we understand best are those mostly from higher latitudes, probably because patterns were simplified to a great extent by major losses of diversity during glacial periods. In Southern European regions (or in general, in those places where ice effects were less severe) the situation is quite different and to some extent opposite. These regions are referred to as refugia because they are known to contain more genetic diversity than elsewhere. This is not only due to preservation of genotypes that went extinct in other places, however, but also to the intensity and accumulation of a number of processes in a patchy landscape across a varied topography. A lack of general phylogeographic patterns in these regions is one consequence. Speaking of a single refugium to refer to each of the peninsulas, however, is an oversimplification. Even speaking of multiple unconnected refugia does not adequately reflect the complexity of the processes that shaped the current genetic and specific diversity.


Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Real Jardín Botánico (CSIC), Plaza de Murillo, 28014 Madrid, Spain

Publication date: April 1, 2011

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