- • The chloroplast phylogeography of two peat mosses (Sphagnum fimbriatum and Sphagnum squarrosum) with similar distributions but different life history characteristics was investigated in Europe. Our main aim was to test whether similar distributions reflect similar phylogeographic and phylodemographic processes.
- • Accessions covering the European distributions of the species were collected and approx. 2000 bp of the chloroplast genome of each species was sequenced. Maximum parsimony, statistical parsimony and phylodemographic analyses were used to address the question of whether these species with similar distributions show evidence of similar phylogeographic and phylodemographic processes.
- • The chloroplast haplotypes of the currently spreading species S. fimbriatum showed strong geographic structure, whereas those of S. squarrosum, which has stable historical population sizes, showed only very weak geographic affinity and were widely distributed.
- • We hypothesize that S. fimbriatum survived the last glaciations along the Atlantic coast of Europe, whereas S. squarrosum had numerous, scattered refugia in Europe. The dominance of one haplotype of S. fimbriatum across almost all of Europe suggests rapid colonization after the last glacial maximum. We hypothesize that high colonizing ability is an inherent characteristic of the species and its recent expansion in Europe is a response to climate change.