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Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2009 Apr;51(1):85-93. doi: 10.1016/j.ympev.2008.11.027. Epub 2008 Dec 24.

Patterns of plant speciation in the Cape floristic region.

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1
School of Biological And Conservation Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Private Bag X01, Scottsville, Pietermaritzburg, 3209, South Africa. vdniet@gmail.com

Abstract

Plant species have accumulated in the Cape region of southern Africa to a much greater degree than in areas of equivalent size in the rest of the subcontinent. Although this could be a consequence simply of lower extinction rates in the Cape, most researchers have invoked high rates of ecological speciation, driven by unique aspects of the Cape environment, as the primary explanation for this richness. To assess these ideas, we analyzed the frequencies of ecological shifts among 188 sister species pairs obtained from molecular phylogenies of eight Cape clades. Ecological shifts were evident in 80% of sister species pairs, with general habitat, pollinator, and fire-survival strategy shifts being especially frequent. Contrary to an established idea that shifts in soil type are frequently associated with speciation of Cape taxa, these shifts were relatively rare, occurring in just 17% of species pairs. More cases of sister species divergence are accompanied solely by floral than by vegetative diversification, suggesting an important role for pollinator-driven speciation. In an analysis of two large orchid genera that have radiated in both the Cape and the rest of southern Africa, the frequency of ecological shifts (general habitat, soil type, altitude and flowering time), did not differ between sister species pairs in the Cape region and those outside it. Despite suggestions that Cape plants tend to have small range sizes and show fine-scale patterns of speciation, range size did not differ significantly between species in the Cape and those outside it. We conclude that ecological speciation is likely to have been important for radiation of the Cape flora, but there is no evidence as yet for special "Cape" patterns of ecological speciation.

PMID:
19136066
DOI:
10.1016/j.ympev.2008.11.027
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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