Chloroplast evidence for geographic stasis of the Australian bird-dispersed shrub Tasmannia lanceolata (Winteraceae)


James R. P. Worth, Fax: +61 3 6226 2698; E-mail:


Few chloroplast-based genetic studies have been undertaken for plants of mesic temperate forests in the southern hemisphere and fossil-based models have provided evidence of vegetation history only at the broadest scales in this region. This study investigates the chloroplast DNA phylogeography of Tasmannia lanceolata (Winteraceae), a fleshy-fruited, bird-dispersed shrub that is widespread in the mountains of southeastern Australia and Tasmania. Thirty haplotypes were identified after sequencing 3206 bp of chloroplast DNA in each of 244 individuals collected across the species’ range. These haplotypes showed unexpectedly strong phylogeographic structuring, including a phylogeographic break within a continuous part of the species’ range, with the distribution of four major clades mostly not overlapping, and geographic structuring of haplotypes within these clades. This strong geographic patterning of chloroplast DNA provided evidence for the survival of T. lanceolata in multiple putative wet forest refugia as well as evidence for additional wet forest species refugia in southeastern Australia. In western Tasmania lower haplotype diversity below the LGM tree line compared to above the LGM tree line suggests that glacial refugia at high altitudes may have been important for T. lanceolata. The level of geographic structuring in T. lanceolata is similar to gravity dispersed southern hemisphere plants such as Nothofagus and Eucalyptus. Behavioural traits of the birds transporting seed may have had a strong bearing on the limited transport of T. lanceolata seed, although factors limiting establishment, possibly including selection, may also have been important.