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Extended phylogeny of Aquilegia: the biogeographical and ecological patterns of two simultaneous but contrasting radiations

Abstract

Studies of the North American columbines (Aquilegia, Ranunculaceae) have supported the view that adaptive radiations in animal-pollinated plants proceed through pollinator specialisation and floral differentiation. However, although the diversity of pollinators and floral morphology is much lower in Europe and Asia than in North America, the number of columbine species is similar in the three continents. This supports the hypothesis that habitat and pollinator specialisation have contributed differently to the radiation of columbines in different continents. To establish the basic background to test this hypothesis, we expanded the molecular phylogeny of the genus to include a representative set of species from each continent. Our results suggest that the diversity of the genus is the result of two independent events of radiation, one involving Asiatic and North American species and the other involving Asiatic and European species. The ancestors of both lineages probably occupied the mountains of south-central Siberia. North American and European columbines are monophyletic within their respective lineages. The genus originated between 6.18 and 6.57 million years (Myr) ago, with the main pulses of diversification starting around 3 Myr ago both in Europe (1.25–3.96 Myr ago) and North America (1.42–5.01 Myr ago). The type of habitat occupied shifted more often in the Euroasiatic lineage, while pollination vectors shifted more often in the Asiatic-North American lineage. Moreover, while allopatric speciation predominated in the European lineage, sympatric speciation acted in the North American one. In conclusion, the radiation of columbines in Europe and North America involved similar rates of diversification and took place simultaneously and independently. However, the ecological drivers of radiation were different: geographic isolation and shifts in habitat use were more important in Europe while reproductive isolation linked to shifts in pollinator specialisation additionally acted in North America.

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Acknowledgments

We are grateful to the many botanical gardens (listed in Appendix 1) that provided plant material used in this study. Emilio Cano (Real Jardín Botánico de Madrid) generously offered assistance in molecular techniques. This work was supported by the Spanish Ministerio de Educación y Ciencia (projects BOS2003-03979-C02/01-02 and CGL2006-02848). During this work J.M.B. was supported with grant BES-2004-3387 of Spanish MEC. We thank Zhi Duan Chen and Wei Wang for kindly providing the molecular sequences for some of the outgroup taxa used in our study.

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Correspondence to Julio M. Alcántara.

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Bastida, J.M., Alcántara, J.M., Rey, P.J. et al. Extended phylogeny of Aquilegia: the biogeographical and ecological patterns of two simultaneous but contrasting radiations. Plant Syst Evol 284, 171–185 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00606-009-0243-z

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Keywords

  • Adaptive radiation
  • Allopatric speciation
  • Columbines
  • Habitat specialisation
  • Historical contingency
  • Pollination syndromes
  • Sympatric speciation