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Geographic distribution and migration pathways of Pistacia – present, past and future

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The global distribution of Pistacia is correlated to its adaptability to environmental conditions and mechanisms that had driven the genus to the current unique narrow latitudinal belt in between 10° North and 45° North. The current geostatisitcal distribution maps of the genus are shown and the derived probability maps over a period between 121 Kyr before present and the year 2100 were calculated. The tolerance of Pistacia trees to harsh climate conditions was related to leaf phenology, evergreeness vs deciduousness, which has led to geographic classification of the genus in two corresponding sections that corroborate recent molecular genetic studies. The deciduous trees are more tolerant to extreme climate conditions (−26°C to 46°C) than the evergreen species (−8°C to 41°C), except Pistacia lentiscus, which occurs at a max. temperature of 45°C. The close spatial distribution of the later species and the deciduous ones may have been conducive in further evolution of the genus. Based on the long evolution of Pistacia (approx. 84 Ma), we suggested that the genus may have originated in the boreal forest and its migration pathways might have been evoked in relation to climate change, shifting the species distribution to evolving suitable environmental conditions. The fact that most of the genera in the family of Anacardiaceae and the whole genus Pistacia are dioecious raised questions about plausible relationships between the geographic distribution, environmental conditions and evolution of dioecy. The genus Pistacia was shown to be a good candidate for research about the relationships between environmental conditions, adaptation traits and geographic distribution.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2015

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