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Biogeography of temperate Australasian Polystichum ferns as inferred from chloroplast sequence and AFLP

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Abstract Aim and location

New Zealand began to separate from Gondwana c. 85 Ma, and has been isolated from the nearest large landmass, Australia, by some 2000 km of the Tasman Sea since c. 60 Ma. Given New Zealand's long geographical isolation, there has been considerable interest in explaining the origins of its different biotic elements. Here we investigate the biogeography of the fern genus Polystichum from temperate Australasia. Six species are found in New Zealand, four in Australia, and two on Lord Howe Island. Methods

The evolutionary relationships between the twelve Polystichum species found in temperate Australasia were inferred from phylogenetic analyses of two molecular data sets: DNA sequence from the chloroplast rps4–trnS spacer locus; and AFLP DNA-fingerprinting. The timing of the separation between Australian and New Zealand Polystichum was estimated by using the fossil record to temporally calibrate the rbcL sequence differentiation between representative species from these regions. Results

Species of Polystichum from New Zealand appear to comprise a monophyletic group. This suggests that Polystichum crossed the Tasman only once. Temporal calibration of the rbcL sequence differentiation between Australian and New Zealand Polystichum indicates that a vicariant explanation for their separation can be rejected in favour of trans-oceanic dispersal. Main conclusions

The extant diversity within New Zealand Polystichum appears to have been derived from a single, trans-oceanic dispersal event (within the last c. 20 Myr), followed by a relatively extensive in situ ecological radiation.
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Keywords: AFLP; Australia; Lord Howe Island; New Zealand; Polystichum; dispersal; fern; rbcL; rps4–trnS; vicariance

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington, New Zealand 2: Allan Wilson Centre for Molecular Ecology and Evolution, Institute of Molecular BioSciences, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand 3: Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney, Sydney, Australia 4: School of Landscape and Plant Science, UNITEC, Auckland, New Zealand

Publication date: November 1, 2003

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