, Volume 224, Issue 1-2, pp 97-107

Morphological and molecular concordance for the recognition of two species in the New ZealandPolystichum richardii (Hook.) J. Smith complex

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Abstract

The New Zealand fernPolystichum richardii is shown to comprise at least two evolutionary lineages. A narrow-scaled morphological form and a wide-scaled morphological form are recognised. Principal Component Analysis of a set of frond, soral and spore characters supports this morphological separation. Amplified Fragment Length Polymorphism (AFLP) DNA fingerprinting shows that the two morphological forms are also genetically distinct. They are sympatric across a broad area of central New Zealand, and often grow together without apparent ecological separation at the local level. Both are known to form sterile hybrids withP. vestitum, suggesting that both morphological forms ofP. richardii are at least partially outcrossing. The morphological and genetic distinctiveness of these two morphological forms, combined with their sympatric distributions and their (at least partially) outcrossing mating systems, merits their recognition as separate species.