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Tests of species‐specific models reveal the importance of drought in postglacial range shifts of a Mediterranean‐climate tree: insights from integrative distributional, demographic and coalescent modelling and ABC model selection

Jordan B. Bemmels, Pascal O. Title, Joaquín Ortego, L. Lacey Knowles
Molecular ecology 2016 v.25 no.19 pp. 4889-4906
Bayesian theory, Mediterranean climate, Quercus chrysolepis, climate change, drought, drought tolerance, ecoregions, genetic variation, genotyping, landscapes, microsatellite repeats, models, niches, summer, trees, water stress, California
Past climate change has caused shifts in species distributions and undoubtedly impacted patterns of genetic variation, but the biological processes mediating responses to climate change, and their genetic signatures, are often poorly understood. We test six species‐specific biologically informed hypotheses about such processes in canyon live oak (Quercus chrysolepis) from the California Floristic Province. These hypotheses encompass the potential roles of climatic niche, niche multidimensionality, physiological trade‐offs in functional traits, and local‐scale factors (microsites and local adaptation within ecoregions) in structuring genetic variation. Specifically, we use ecological niche models (ENMs) to construct temporally dynamic landscapes where the processes invoked by each hypothesis are reflected by differences in local habitat suitabilities. These landscapes are used to simulate expected patterns of genetic variation under each model and evaluate the fit of empirical data from 13 microsatellite loci genotyped in 226 individuals from across the species range. Using approximate Bayesian computation (ABC), we obtain very strong support for two statistically indistinguishable models: a trade‐off model in which growth rate and drought tolerance drive habitat suitability and genetic structure, and a model based on the climatic niche estimated from a generic ENM, in which the variables found to make the most important contribution to the ENM have strong conceptual links to drought stress. The two most probable models for explaining the patterns of genetic variation thus share a common component, highlighting the potential importance of seasonal drought in driving historical range shifts in a temperate tree from a Mediterranean climate where summer drought is common.