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Glacial-induced altitudinal migrations in Armeria (Plumbaginaceae) inferred from patterns of chloroplast DNA haplotype sharing


Gonzalo Nieto Feliner. Fax: 34 914200157; E-mail:


In contrast to northern European areas where large-scale migrations occurred to recolonize territories after glacial periods, species in southern regions survived and diverged without large geographical displacements. As a result of the importance of orography in much of the southern areas, such displacements must have involved populations ascending or descending mountains. The present study provides support for glacial-induced altitudinal migrations from chloroplast phylogeographic patterns in Armeria (Plumbaginaceae) in southeast Spain. One hundred and five sequences of the trnL-F spacer were obtained from seven species. Fifteen different haplotypes were recognized, their genealogy was inferred, and associations with geography were explored using nested clade analysis. Seven instances were detected in which the same haplotype is shared by two or three species within a particular massif. In all the cases, at least one of the species involved displayed different haplotypes in other areas; in most, the haplotype shared is predominant either in one of the species involved or in the massif. These patterns of haplotype sharing strongly suggest horizontal transfer between species. In one of the massifs (Sierra Nevada) the three species involved in haplotype sharing (A. splendens, A. filicaulis ssp. nevadensis, A. villosa ssp. bernisii) occur at markedly different altitudinal belts. It is argued that altitudinal migrations within the contraction–expansion model provide the best explanation for the current pattern, and that at least in one case it resulted in the formation of a new hybrid taxon, A. filicaulis ssp. nevadensis.