Aim Palaeontologial data suggest that all temperate forest species in northern China migrated southwards during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) and recolonized post-glacially within the Holocene. We tested this assumption using phylogeographical studies of a temperate deciduous shrub species (Ostryopsis davidiana Decne., Betulaceae), which has a wide distribution in northern China.
Location Northern China.
Methods We sequenced two chloroplast DNA (cpDNA) fragments (trnL–trnF and psbA–trnH, together about 1300 bp in length) of 294 plants from 21 populations across the total distribution range of this species. We used maximum parsimony and haplotype network methods to construct phylogenetic relationships among haplotypes.
Results The analysis of cpDNA variation identified eight haplotypes. A single haplotype was fixed in all populations except for one population that was polymorphic, having two haplotypes. The population subdivisions were extremely high (GST = 0.972 and NST = 0.974), suggesting very low gene flow between populations. Haplotypes clustered into two tentative clades, both of which occur in the southern region of the species’ range but only one of which occurs in the northern region. Across the sampled populations, the haplotype distributions were differentiated geographically.
Main conclusions Our analyses suggest that multiple refugia were maintained across the range of O. davidiana in both northern (north of the Qing Mountains) and southern (south of the Qing Mountains) regions during the LGM rather than that the species survived only in the south and subsequently colonized northwards. The extremely low within-population diversity of this species suggests strong bottleneck or founder effects within each fragmented region during the Quaternary climatic oscillations. These findings provide important clues for understanding range shifts and changes in within- and/or between-population genetic diversity of temperate forests in response to past climatic oscillations in northern China.