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Biogeography of high-mountain plants in the Carpathians: An emerging phylogeographical perspective

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The Carpathians belong to the main elements of the European Alpine System and have an important biogeographical location between the Balkan ranges in the South, the Alps in the West and the Scandinavian range in the North. However, until recently this area was rarely included in detailed phylogeographical studies that could bring insights into its biogeographical history, links with other mountain ranges and contemporary genetic structure of populations. Here, available phylogeographical studies on high-mountain plants that include data concerning the Carpathians are reviewed in order to (1) discuss regional phylogeographical structure and divergence of the Carpathian populations from those in other European mountain ranges, and (2) outline further perspectives of the Carpathian phylogeography. Analysis of available studies revealed the complexity of the biogeographical history of high-mountain plants. The studies show a deep phylogeographical structure in the Carpathians, mostly concurring with classical biogeographical boundaries, and suggesting a long-term isolation and restricted gene flow between the main Carpathian regions. For some species, though, recent dispersal events among isolated mountain ranges were detected. Such contrasting patterns were found at a larger geographical scale as well (e. g., between the Carpathians and the Alps). Several examples suggest the importance of the Carpathians in migration of arctic-alpine plants from the East and towards the North. In most reviewed studies, however, the Carpathians are only marginally represented and detailed intraspecific studies based on dense population coverage in all disjunct areas of species' ranges are clearly needed to obtain reliable information and confirm the preliminary phylogeographical patterns emerging from the overview presented here.


Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Institute of Botany, Polish Academy of Sciences, Lubicz 46, 31-512 Kraków, Poland

Publication date: 2011-04-01

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