Untangling a species complex of arid zone grasses (Triodia) reveals patterns congruent with co-occurring animals

B.M. Anderson, Matthew Barrett, Siegfried Krauss, Kevin Thiele

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


© 2016 Elsevier Inc. The vast Australian arid zone formed over the last 15 million years, and gradual aridification as well as more extreme Pliocene and Pleistocene climate shifts have impacted the evolution of its biota. Understanding the evolutionary history of groups of organisms or regional biotas such as the Australian arid biota requires clear delimitation of the units of biodiversity (taxa). Here we integrate evidence from nuclear (ETS and ITS) and chloroplast (rps16-trnK spacer) regions and morphology to clarify taxonomic boundaries in a species complex of Australian hummock grasses (Triodia) to better understand the evolution of Australian arid zone plants and to evaluate congruence in distribution patterns with co-occurring organisms. We find evidence for multiple new taxa in the T. basedowii species complex, but also incongruence between data sets and indications of hybridization that complicate delimitation. We find that the T. basedowii complex has high lineage diversity and endemism in the biologically important Pilbara region of Western Australia, consistent with the region acting as a refugium. Taxa show strong geographic structure in the Pilbara, congruent with recent work on co-occurring animals and suggesting common evolutionary drivers across the biota. Our findings confirm recognition of the Pilbara as an important centre of biodiversity in the Australian arid zone, and provide a basis for future taxonomic revision of the T. basedowii complex and more detailed study of its evolutionary history and that of arid Australia.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)142-162
Number of pages21
JournalMolecular Phylogenetics and Evolution
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2016


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