Aim To discover the pattern of relationships of areas of endemism for Australian genera in the plant family Rhamnaceae tribe Pomaderreae for comparison with other taxa and interpretation of biogeographical history.
Location Australian mainland, Tasmania and New Zealand.
Methods A molecular phylogeny and geographic distribution of species within four clades of Pomaderreae are used as a basis for recognition of areas of endemism and analysis of area relationships using paralogy-free subtrees. The taxon phylogeny is the strict consensus tree from a parsimony analysis of 54 taxa, in four clades, and sequence data for the internal transcribed spacer regions of ribosomal DNA (ITS1-5.8S-ITS2) and the plastid DNA region trnL-F.
Results The biogeographical analysis identified five subtrees, which, after parsimony analysis, resulted in a minimal tree with 100% consistency and seven resolved nodes. Three sets of area relationships were identified: the areas of Arnhem and Kimberley in tropical north Australia are related based on the phylogeny of taxa within Cryptandra; the moister South-west of Western Australia, its sister area the coastal Geraldton Sandplains, the semi-arid Interzone region and arid Western Desert are related, based on taxa within Cryptandra, Spyridium, Trymalium and Pomaderris; and the eastern regions of Queensland, McPherson-Macleay, south-eastern New South Wales (NSW), Victoria, southern Australia, Tasmania and New Zealand are related based on Cryptandra, Pomaderris and Spyridium. Tasmania and NSW are related based entirely on Cryptandra, but the position of New Zealand relative to the other south-eastern Australian regions is unresolved.
Main conclusions The method of paralogy-free subtrees identified a general pattern of geographic area relationships based on Australian Pomaderreae. The widespread distribution of clades, the high level of endemicity and the age of fossils for the family, suggest that the Pomaderreae are an old group among the Australian flora. Their biogeographical history may date to the early Palaeogene with subsequent changes through to the Pleistocene.