Phylogeographic evidence for two mesic refugia in a biodiversity hotspot

Heidi Nistelberger, N. Gibson, B. MacDonald, S. L. Tapper, M. Byrne

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    28 Citations (Scopus)


    Phylogeographic studies of flora in species-rich south-Western Australia point to complex evolutionary histories, reflecting patterns of persistence and resilience to climatic changes during the Pleistocene. We asked whether coastal areas of the mid-west and south, as well as granite outcrops and inland ranges, have acted as major refugia within this region during Pleistocene climatic fluctuations by analysing phylogeographic patterns in the shrub Calothamnus quadrifidus R.Br. (Myrtaceae). We determined variation in chloroplast DNA data for 41 populations across the geographic range. Relationships and major clades were resolved using parsimony and Bayesian analyses. We tested for demographic and spatial expansion of the major clades and estimated clade divergence dates using an uncorrelated, lognormal relaxed clock based on two conservative chloroplast mutation rates. Two distinct phylogeographic clades were identified showing divergence during the Pleistocene, consistent with other phylogeographic studies of south-west Australian flora, emphasising the impact of climatic oscillations in driving divergence in this landscape. The southern clade was more diverse, having higher haplotype diversity and greater genetic structure, while the northern clade showed evidence of fluctuation in population size. Regions of high haplotype diversity with adjacent areas of low diversity observed in each clade indicated the locations of two coastal refugia: one on the south coast and another along the mid-west coast. This is the first evidence for major Pleistocene refugia using chloroplast genetic data in a common, widespread species from this region.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)454-463
    Number of pages10
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - 2 Jul 2014


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