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Bacon CD, Velásquez-Puentes F, Hinojosa LF, Schwartz T, Oxelman B, Pfeil B, Arroyo MTK, Wanntorp L, Antonelli A.2017. Evolutionary persistence in Gunnera and the contribution of southern plant groups to the tropical Andes biodiversity hotspot. PeerJ Preprints5:e3330v1https://doi.org/10.7287/peerj.preprints.3330v1
Several studies have demonstrated the contribution of northern immigrants to the flora of the tropical Andes – the world’s “hottest” biodiversity hotspot. However, much less is known about the biogeographic history and diversification of Andean groups with southern origins, although it has been suggested that northern and southern groups have contributed roughly equally to the high Andean (i.e. páramo) flora. Here we infer the evolutionary history of the southern hemisphere plant genus Gunnera, a lineage with a rich fossil history and an important ecological role as an early colonising species characteristic of wet, montane environments. Our results show striking contrasts in species diversification, where some species may have persisted for some 90 million years, whereas others date to less than 2 Ma since origination. The outstanding longevity of the group is likely linked to a high degree of niche conservatism across its highly disjunct range, whereby Gunnera tracks damp and boggy soils in cool habitats. Colonisation of the northern Andes is related to Quaternary climate change, with subsequent rapid diversification appearing to be driven by their ability to take advantage of environmental opportunities. This study demonstrates the composite origin of a mega-diverse biota.
Figure S2. Traitgram of ancestral states of Gunnera climatic niche. Black lines correspond to a projection of the phylogenetic tree in a space defined by the bioclimatic variable mean annual temperature and annual precipitation.