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Evolution of biogeographic disjunction between eastern Asia and North America in Chamaecyparis: Insights from ecological niche models

Liu, Ping, Wen, Jun, Yi, Tingshuang
Plant diversity 2017 v.39 no.3 pp. 111-116
Chamaecyparis, Neogene period, North Americans, biogeography, evolution, global cooling, models, niches, species diversity, East Asia, Europe, North America
The disjunct distribution of plants between eastern Asia (EA) and North America (NA) is one of the most well-known biogeographic patterns. However, the formation and historical process of this pattern have been long debated. Chamaecyparis is a good model to test previous hypotheses about the formation of this disjunct pattern as it contains six species disjunctly distributed in EA, western North America (WNA) and eastern North America (ENA). In this study, we applied ecological niche models to test the formation of the disjunct pattern of Chamaecyparis. The model calibrated with the EA species was able to predict the distribution of eastern NA species well, but not the western NA species. Furthermore, the eastern Asian species were shown to have higher niche overlap with the eastern North American species. The EA species were also shown to share more similar habitats with ENA species than with WNA species in the genus. Chamaecyparis species in WNA experienced a significant niche shift compared with congeneric species. Chamaecyparis had a low number of suitable regions in Europe and the middle and western NA during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) period, and became extinct in the former region whereas it retains residual distribution in the latter. The extirpations in western NA and Europe in response to the late Neogene and Quaternary climatic cooling and the more similar habitats between ENA and EA ultimately shaped the current intercontinental disjunct distribution of Chamaecyparis. Both current hypotheses may be also jointly applied to explain more eastern Asian and eastern North American disjunctions observed today.