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Keywords:

  • AFLPs;
  • Alps;
  • geographic diffusion models;
  • phylogeography;
  • plastid sequences;
  • Pleistocene refugia;
  • range dynamics;
  • Senecio carniolicus

Abstract

Recent evidence suggests that survival of arctic-alpine organisms in peripheral or interior glacial refugia are not mutually exclusive and may both be involved in shaping an organism’s Pleistocene history, yet potentially at different time levels. Here, we test this hypothesis in a high-mountain plant (diploid lineage of Senecio carniolicus, Asteraceae) from the Eastern European Alps, in which patterns of morphological variation and current habitat requirements suggest survival in both types of refugia. To this end, we used AFLPs, nuclear and plastid DNA sequences and analysed them, among others, within a graph theoretic framework and using novel Bayesian methods of phylogeographic inference. On the basis of patterns of genetic diversity, occurrence of rare markers, distribution of distinct genetic lineages and patterns of range connectivity both interior refugia in the formerly strongly glaciated central Alps and peripheral refugia along the southern margin of the Alps were identified. The presence of refugia congruently inferred by markers resolving at different time levels suggests that these refugia acted as such throughout several glacial cycles. The high degree of range persistence together with gradual range expansion, which contrasts with the extent of range shifts implied for other Alpine species, is likely responsible for incipient lineage differentiation evident from the genetic data. Replacing a simplistic peripheral vs. interior refugia dualism by more complex models involving both types of refugia and considering different time levels will help identifying common phylogeographic patterns with respect to, for instance, location of refugia and colonization routes and elucidating their underlying genetic and/or ecological causes.