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Resistance, emigration, or adaptation? Phylogeography and ecology of European alpine plant species

Schönswetter, Peter [2], Stehlik, Ivana [3], Tribsch, Andreas [2], Holderegger, Rolf [1].

Molecular evidence for glacial refugia of mountain plants in the European Alps.

Where did the mountain plants of the European Alps survive the Quaternary glaciations? This question is the subject of a long-standing debate among biogeographers and ecologists. It has been proposed that mountain plants either survived in peripheral refugia outside glaciated areas, mainly in the south of the Alps, or that they resisted in unglaciated areas above the ice sheet in central alpine regions, i.e. o­n nunataks. During the last few years, several phylogeographic studies o­n mountain plants of the Alps have been carried out, which now motivate a first synopsis o­n alpine glacial refugia. The studies all relied o­n a dense sampling of populations, distribution-wide or hypothesis-driven, and used several molecular methods such as neutral DNA fingerprinting (RAPDs, AFLPs) and/or cpDNA data (RFLPs, sequences). Based o­n recurrent phylogeographic patterns, several main peripheral refugia can be delimited: o­ne southwestern-alpine refugium, two southern-alpine refugia and, at least, o­ne eastern alpine refugium. The latter is equivalent to a region that had largely remained unglaciated. Three geographically more restricted northern-alpine peripheral refugia are evident as well. All these results are in accordance with former suggestions o­n peripheral refugia based o­n non-genetic data. In addition, o­ne of the studied species also survived the ice ages o­n high-elevation nunataks within at least two areas of the central Alps. The intraspecific phylogeographic structures found coincide with known patterns of species diversity and endemism in the European Alps. This could imply that evolutionary or biogeographic processes act o­n both gene and species diversity in a similar way.

1 - WSL Swiss Federal Research Institute, Section of Ecological Genetics, Birmensdorf, CH-8903, Switzerland
2 - University of Oslo, Natural History Museums and Botanical Garden, NCB - National Centre for Biosystematics, P.O. Box 1172, Blindern, Oslo, NO-0318, Norway
3 - University of Toronto, Department of Botany, 25 Willcocks St., Toronto, Ontario, M5S 3B2, Canada

European Alps
mountain plants
glacial refugia
ice ages

Presentation Type: Symposium
Session: 55-4
Location: Ballroom 2 (Cliff Lodge)
Date: Wednesday, August 4th, 2004
Time: 2:45 PM
Abstract ID:416

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