Plant Systematics and Evolution

, Volume 304, Issue 4, pp 511–519 | Cite as

Incipient speciation in a neotropical Gesneriaceae: Columnea kucyniakii is nested within C. strigosa

  • James F. Smith
  • Maggie T.-Y. Ooi
  • John L. Clark
Original Article


Speciation is an ongoing process. Many recognized species are fully divergent from each other and their ancestors, whereas others are in earlier stages in the diversification process. Such incipient speciation may create patterns when one or a few populations are phenotypically distinct, but lack genomic level coalescence from each other or from their ancestral species. As a result, such progenitor-derivative species pairs are likely to lack reciprocal monophyly or generate paraphyletic ancestral species. Here we examine phylogenetic patterns in the Columnea strigosa (Gesneriaceae) complex to evaluate whether populations that have been named C. kucyniakii are reciprocally monophyletic with C. strigosa, its presumed ancestral species. Molecular phylogenetic results do not support reciprocal monophyly of the two species, implying that incipient speciation is occurring within the C. strigosa complex. We hereby recommend that C. kucyniakii be recognized at the specific rank despite the fact that it creates a paraphyletic C. strigosa. These findings bear importance in taxonomic decisions about paraphyletic taxa and recognizing evolutionary and morphologically distinct lineages.


Coalescence Paraphyly Progenitor-derivative species pairs Reciprocal monophyly 



We would like to thank Chris Davidson, Sharon Christoph, Eric Tepe, and Tom Croat for sharing silica gel dried material of collections for this analysis as well as anonymous reviewers and the editorial staff of Plant Systematics and Evolution. Financial support for this project was provided by NSF, Grant DEB0949270 JFS and JLC.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

606_2018_1502_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (112 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 112 kb)
606_2018_1502_MOESM2_ESM.nex (126 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (NEX 126 kb)
606_2018_1502_MOESM3_ESM.fas (127 kb)
Supplementary material 3 (FAS 128 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Austria, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • James F. Smith
    • 1
  • Maggie T.-Y. Ooi
    • 1
  • John L. Clark
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesBoise State UniversityBoiseUSA
  2. 2.The Lawrenceville School: Science DepartmentThe Lawrenceville SchoolLawrencevilleUSA

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