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Spatio-temporal history of the disjunct family Tecophilaeaceae: a tale involving the colonization of three Mediterranean-type ecosystems

Buerki, Sven, Manning, John C., Forest, Félix
Annals of botany 2013 v.111 no.3 pp. 361-373
DNA, Mediterranean climate, Tecophilaeaceae, biogeography, ecosystems, nucleotide sequences, phylogeny, spatial variation, temporal variation, uncertainty, Africa, California, Chile
Background and Aims Tecophilaeaceae (27 species distributed in eight genera) have a disjunct distribution in California, Chile and southern and tropical mainland Africa. Moreover, although the family mainly occurs in arid ecosystems, it has colonized three Mediterranean-type ecosystems. In this study, the spatio-temporal history of the family is examined using DNA sequence data from six plastid regions. Methods Modern methods in divergence time estimation (BEAST), diversification (LTT and GeoSSE) and biogeography (LAGRANGE) are applied to infer the evolutionary history of Tecophilaeaceae. To take into account dating and phylogenetic uncertainty, the biogeographical inferences were run over a set of dated Bayesian trees and the analyses were constrained according to palaeogeographical evidence. Key Results The analyses showed that the current distribution and diversification of the family were influenced primarily by the break up of Gondwana, separating the family into two main clades, and the establishment of a Mediterranean climate in Chile, coinciding with the radiation of Conanthera . Finally, unlike many other groups, no shifts in diversification rates were observed associated with the dispersals in the Cape region of South Africa. Conclusions Although modest in size, Tecophilaeaceae have a complex spatio-temporal history. The family is now most diverse in arid ecosystems in southern Africa, but is expected to have originated in sub-tropical Africa. It has subsequently colonized Mediterranean-type ecosystems in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, but well before the onset of the Mediterranean climate in these regions. Only one lineage, genus Conanthera , has apparently diversified to any extent under the impetus of a Mediterranean climate.