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BMC Evol Biol. 2016 Sep 17;16:190. doi: 10.1186/s12862-016-0764-3.

The biodiversity hotspot as evolutionary hot-bed: spectacular radiation of Erica in the Cape Floristic Region.

Author information

1
Department of Biochemistry, University of Stellenbosch, Private Bag X1, Matieland, 7602, South Africa. pirie@uni-mainz.de.
2
Institut für Spezielle Botanik und Botanischer Garten, Johannes Gutenberg-Universität, Anselm-Franz-von-Bentzelweg 9a, 55099, Mainz, Germany. pirie@uni-mainz.de.
3
Department of Botany and Zoology, University of Stellenbosch, Private Bag X1, Matieland, 7602, South Africa.
4
INRES Pflanzenzüchtung, Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn, Katzenburgweg 5, 53115, Bonn, Germany.
5
Institut für Spezielle Botanik und Botanischer Garten, Johannes Gutenberg-Universität, Anselm-Franz-von-Bentzelweg 9a, 55099, Mainz, Germany.
6
Department of Biochemistry, University of Stellenbosch, Private Bag X1, Matieland, 7602, South Africa.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

The disproportionate species richness of the world's biodiversity hotspots could be explained by low extinction (the evolutionary "museum") and/or high speciation (the "hot-bed") models. We test these models using the largest of the species rich plant groups that characterise the botanically diverse Cape Floristic Region (CFR): the genus Erica L. We generate a novel phylogenetic hypothesis informed by nuclear and plastid DNA sequences of c. 60 % of the c. 800 Erica species (of which 690 are endemic to the CFR), and use this to estimate clade ages (using RELTIME; BEAST), net diversification rates (GEIGER), and shifts in rates of diversification in different areas (BAMM; MuSSE).

RESULTS:

The diversity of Erica species in the CFR is the result of a single radiation within the last c. 15 million years. Compared to ancestral lineages in the Palearctic, the rate of speciation accelerated across Africa and Madagascar, with a further burst of speciation within the CFR that also exceeds the net diversification rates of other Cape clades.

CONCLUSIONS:

Erica exemplifies the "hotbed" model of assemblage through recent speciation, implying that with the advent of the modern Cape a multitude of new niches opened and were successively occupied through local species diversification.

KEYWORDS:

Biodiversity; Cape Floristic Region; Diversification; Erica; Evolution

PMID:
27639849
PMCID:
PMC5027107
DOI:
10.1186/s12862-016-0764-3
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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