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Phylogeography and conservation of Pedicularis (Orobanchaceae) in the Hengduan Mountains of SW China and Tibet

Meek, Jared Bryant; Hoffberg, Sandra L.; Molina-Velez, Kasielis; Ree, Richard; Eaton, Deren A. R.

The Hengduan Mountains Region (HMR) of southwest China is a temperate biodiversity hotspot characterized by high rates of plant endemism, including approximately 300 endemic species of Pedicularis (Orobanchaceae). Intersecting processes of mountain uplift during the early Oligocene (~30 Mya), followed by monsoon intensification during the mid-Miocene (~8-10 Mya) and glacial cycles throughout the Quaternary, have contributed to high rates of speciation within this genus due to population isolation in allopatry. In order to accurately identify the major geographic barriers influencing this speciation process, genomic data (RADseq) and comparative phylogeographic methods were used to characterize the history of population divergence among six widespread species of Pedicularis. Three biogeographic regions, which are delineated by four main tributaries of the Upper Yangtze River system, were identified within the HMR. In recent decades, infrastructure development has substantially altered this mountain landscape - connecting previously isolated areas by roads and tunnels - with the potential to threaten endemic biodiversity through genetic homogenization. This inferred phylogeographic history of Pedicularis within the HMR can be used in future research to determine whether recent gene flow has occurred across historical barriers due to human influence, thus aiding plant conservation efforts in this biodiversity hotspot.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology
Published Here
June 3, 2020