Complex phylogeographic patterns indicate Central American origin of two widespread Mesoamerican Quercus (Fagaceae) species

  • Hernando Rodríguez-Correa
  • Ken Oyama
  • Mauricio Quesada
  • Eric J. Fuchs
  • Maura Quezada
  • Lilian Ferrufino
  • Susana Valencia-Ávalos
  • Alfredo Cascante-Marín
  • Antonio González-Rodríguez
Original Article
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Taxonomy


The northern Neotropical region is characterized by a heterogeneous geological and climatic history. Recent studies have shown contrasting patterns regarding the role of geographic elements as barriers that could have determined phylogeographic structure in various species. Recently, the phylogeography and biogeography of Quercus species have been studied intensively, and the patterns observed so far suggest contrasting evolutionary histories for Neotropical species in comparison with their Holarctic relatives. The goal of this study was to describe the phylogeographic structure of two Neotropical oak species (Quercus insignis and Quercus sapotifolia) in the context of the geological and palaeoclimatic history of the northern Neotropics. Populations through the distribution range of both species were collected and characterized using nine chloroplast DNA microsatellite loci. Both oak species showed high levels of genetic diversity and strong phylogeographic structure. The distribution of genetic variation in Q. insignis suggested an influence of two major barriers, the Isthmus of Tehuantepec and the Nicaraguan Depression, while Q. sapotifolia exhibited a genetic structure defined by the heterogeneity of the Chortis highlands. The haplotype networks of both species indicated complex histories, suggesting that colonization from the Sierra Madre de Chiapas to central Mexico and from the north of the Nicaraguan Depression to the Costa Rican mountains may have occurred during different stages, and apparently more than one time. In conclusion, the phylogeographic structure of Neotropical oak species seems to be defined by a combination of geological and climatic events.


Neotropical trees Middle America Palaeodistribution Phylogeography Historical demography 



The authors thank Jorge Lobo for laboratory access at the Universidad de Costa Rica (UCR) and Jesus Llanderal, German Sandoval, Wilson Zúñiga, Carlos Funes, Carlos O’Reilly, Iliam Rivera, and Katya Romero for support during the field stage. Paul C. Standley (EAP) and Cyril Hardy Nelson Sutherland (TEFH) herbariums provided logistic assistance in Honduras. The comments by Eduardo Ruiz-Sánchez to a previous version of the manuscript are gratefully acknowledged. H. Rodríguez-Correa specially thanks the Programa de Becas Posdoctorales (DGAPA, UNAM) for providing funding to develop postdoctoral studies at UNAM. HRC also thanks the financial support received by the Red Latinoamericana de Botánica-Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Grant 2010-2011, and all authors acknowledge support from PAPIIT IV201015 and CONACYT 240136 grants.

Data archiving statement

Genotypic data for the studied species will be submitted to the Dryad Digital Repository ( following its data management policy, the accession numbers will be supplied once available. Meanwhile, data is provided as a supplementary file.

Supplementary material

11295_2017_1147_MOESM1_ESM.xlsx (23 kb)
ESM 1 (XLSX 22 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hernando Rodríguez-Correa
    • 1
  • Ken Oyama
    • 1
  • Mauricio Quesada
    • 1
  • Eric J. Fuchs
    • 2
  • Maura Quezada
    • 3
  • Lilian Ferrufino
    • 4
  • Susana Valencia-Ávalos
    • 5
  • Alfredo Cascante-Marín
    • 2
  • Antonio González-Rodríguez
    • 6
  1. 1.Escuela Nacional de Estudios Superiores Unidad MoreliaUniversidad Nacional Autónoma de MéxicoMoreliaMexico
  2. 2.Escuela de BiologíaUniversidad de Costa RicaSan JoséCosta Rica
  3. 3.Herbario de San Carlos de GuatemalaUniversidad San Carlos de GuatemalaGuatemalaGuatemala
  4. 4.Laboratorio de Histología Vegetal y EtnobotánicaUniversidad Nacional Autónoma de HondurasTegucigalpaHonduras
  5. 5.Herbario de la Facultad de Ciencias (FCME), Departamento de Biología ComparadaUniversidad Nacional Autónoma de MéxicoCoyoacánMexico
  6. 6.Laboratorio de Genética de la Conservación, Instituto de Investigaciones en Ecosistemas y SustentabilidadUniversidad Nacional Autónoma de MéxicoMoreliaMexico

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