Tree Genetics & Genomes

, Volume 10, Issue 1, pp 111–126 | Cite as

Demography of the upward-shifting temperate woody species of the Rhododendron pseudochrysanthum complex and ecologically relevant adaptive divergence in its trailing edge populations

  • Chia-Ying Chen
  • Bo-Kai Liang
  • Jeng-Der Chung
  • Chung-Te Chang
  • Yi-Chiang Hsieh
  • Teng-Chiu Lin
  • Shih-Ying HwangEmail author
Original Paper


Trailing edge populations of upward migrating species induced by postglacial climatic warming can be evolutionarily significant in the face of global warming. We tested for population size changes between lower- and higher-elevation populations located in the same mountainous regions of the upward-shifting temperate woody species of the Rhododendron pseudochrysanthum complex in Taiwan. We also tested whether natural selection evoked adaptive divergence in trailing edge populations of this species complex. We genotyped 26 expressed sequence tag-simple sequence repeat (EST-SSR) loci of 185 individuals from nine populations of the R. pseudochrysanthum complex including Rhododendron rubropunctatum, Rhododendron hyperythrum, Rhododendron morii, and R. pseudochrysanthum. R. rubropunctatum populations in the R. pseudochrysanthum complex possessed the lowest estimates of genetic diversity and effective population size. Higher-elevation R. pseudochrysanthum populations had lower effective population sizes than lower-elevation R. morii populations in Hohuanshan and Tahsueshan, as revealed by estimates using both MIGRATE-N and approximate Bayesian computation (ABC). R. rubropunctatum populations diverged significantly from populations of other members of the R. pseudochrysanthum complex. An outlier potentially under positive selection specific to R. rubropunctatum populations was identified and strongly associated with ecologically relevant environmental variables. Postglacial climatic warming has a significant influence on population isolation in the R. pseudochrysanthum complex. The results indicate adaptive evolution in the trailing edge populations, i.e., R. rubropunctatum populations of the upward shifting R. pseudochrysanthum complex.


Climate warming Population isolation Rhododendron Taiwan Trailing edge population Upward range shift 



This work was supported by the National Science Council, Executive Yuan, Taiwan (grant number NSC97-2313-B-003-002-MY3) to SYH. The authors are grateful to Yushan National Park for allowing them to collect plant materials. Funding for a graduate studentship to BKL and YCH and a postdoctoral associateship to CYC and CTC by the National Science Council is also acknowledged.

Data Archiving Statement

EST-SSR genotyping data of this study were deposited at Dryad:

Supplementary material

11295_2013_669_MOESM1_ESM.doc (246 kb)
ESM 1 (DOC 245 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Chia-Ying Chen
    • 1
  • Bo-Kai Liang
    • 1
  • Jeng-Der Chung
    • 2
  • Chung-Te Chang
    • 1
  • Yi-Chiang Hsieh
    • 1
  • Teng-Chiu Lin
    • 1
  • Shih-Ying Hwang
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Life ScienceNational Taiwan Normal UniversityTaipeiRepublic of China
  2. 2.Division of SilvicultureTaiwan Forestry Research InstituteTaipeiRepublic of China

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