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Merging of Pedicularis exaltata and P. hacquetii in the Carpathians: from local history to regional phylogeography based on complex evidence

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Abstract

The disjunct occurrence of Pedicularis exaltata in the White Carpathians (Czech Republic), isolated by more than 500 km from the nearest populations in the Eastern Carpathians, has been considered one of the mysteries of the Western Carpathian flora. We used molecular methods (AFLP, ITS and cpDNA sequencing) to reconstruct a possible scenario of the evolution of P. exaltata and its closely related congener P. hacquetii and to evaluate their differentiation. We paid particular attention to the origin of the isolated population in the White Carpathians. We also analysed the vegetation composition at the sampling sites to characterize the habitat preferences of the Pedicularis species and compare different sites. The pattern of molecular variability does not support a species boundary between P. exaltata and P. hacquetii. These assumed species should be merged into one bearing the name Pedicularis hacquetii following the priority rule, as also proposed by several early morphology-based taxonomic studies. The cpDNA variability pattern supports an evolutionary scenario involving a distribution centre (refugium) in the Eastern Carpathians from which the species expanded to the more westerly parts of its extant geographical range. Low population differentiation in AFLPs, high gene diversity and high DW index in isolated populations indicate that this expansion was contiguous rather than based on long-distance dispersal. Under such a scenario, the White Carpathian population is considered one of isolated relict populations scattered throughout the Carpathians and the East European Plain. A complete phylogeographic reconstruction of P. hacquetii s.l., however, requires ancient DNA analysis of herbarium specimens of nowadays extinct populations of the East European Plain. Extant habitats of P. hacquetii s.l. consist of species-rich dry-mesic to mesic (sub)montane grasslands and subalpine tall-herb growths, which may be relics of vegetation widespread in the late Glacial/early Holocene, when the contiguous expansion of the species possibly proceeded. The analysis of species with high fidelity to P. hacquetii s.l. throughout its range indicated that middle altitudes of south-western White Carpathians belong to the regions most suitable for the taxon within the Czech Republic and Slovakia. We found no support for the late introduction/long-distance dispersal scenarios and consider the relic survival scenario most parsimonious for the White Carpathians.

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Acknowledgements

We thank Michal Hájek for providing information on Romanian sites, an unpublished relevé and valuable discussions, Magdalena Lučanová for chromosome counting, Adrian Indreica for help with localization of Romanian populations, Ondřej Hájek for map plotting, Karel Fajmon for his advice, Tamara Těšitelová for kindl help with the construction of phylogenetic tree, Vlastimil Smýkal for help with sequence data processing and Petr Blažek for advice on the use of the BAPS software. The study was supported by Czech Science Foundation project 14-36079G (Centre of Excellence PLADIAS). JR was supported by the long-term developmental project of the Czech Academy of Sciences (RVO 67985939).

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Correspondence to Jakub Těšitel.

Electronic Supplementary Material

ESM 1

Chromosome counts of Pedicularis exaltata at the Porážky site, White Carpathians. (PDF 622 kb)

ESM 2

Supplementary data and results relevant for molecular analyses. (PDF 538 kb)

ESM 3

Matrix of raw AFLP data. (CSV 86 kb)

ESM 4

Analysis of chloroplast microsatellites. (PDF 503 kb)

ESM 5

Table of suitability values for Pedicularis hacquetii s.l. for 62,479 analysed Czech and Slovak relevés. (XLSX 4297 kb)

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Těšitel, J., Vratislavská, M., Novák, P. et al. Merging of Pedicularis exaltata and P. hacquetii in the Carpathians: from local history to regional phylogeography based on complex evidence. Folia Geobot 53, 301–315 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12224-018-9317-4

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