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Phylogenetic investigation of the complex evolutionary history of dispersal mode and diversification rates across living and fossil Fagales

Larson‐Johnson, Kathryn
The new phytologist 2016 v.209 no.1 pp. 418-435
Fagales, biogeography, fossils, paleobotany, phylogeny, pollination
As a primary determinant of spatial structure in angiosperm populations, fruit dispersal may impact large‐scale ecological and evolutionary processes. Essential to understanding these mechanisms is an accurate reconstruction of dispersal mode over the entire history of an angiosperm lineage. A total‐evidence phylogeny is presented for most fossil fruit and all extant genera in Fagales over its c. 95 million yr history. This phylogeny – the largest of its kind to include plant fossils – was used to reconstruct an evolutionary history directly informed by fossil morphologies and to assess relationships among dispersal mode, biogeographic range size, and diversification rate. Reconstructions indicate four transitions to wind dispersal and seven to biotic dispersal, with the phylogenetic integration of fossils crucial to understanding these patterns. Complexity further increased when more specialized behaviors were considered, with fluttering, gliding, autorotating, and scatter‐hoarding evolving multiple times across the order. Preliminary biogeographic analyses suggest larger range sizes in biotically dispersed lineages, especially when pollination mode was held constant. Biotically dispersed lineages had significantly higher diversification rates than abiotically dispersed lineages, although transitions in dispersal mode alone cannot explain all detected diversification rate shifts across Fagales.