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A coupled phylogeographical and species distribution modelling approach recovers the demographical history of a Neotropical seasonally dry forest tree species


Correspondence: Rosane Garcia Collevatti, E-mail:


We investigated here the demographical history of Tabebuia impetiginosa (Bignoniaceae) to understand the dynamics of the disjunct geographical distribution of South American seasonally dry forests (SDFs), based on coupling an ensemble approach encompassing hindcasting species distribution modelling and statistical phylogeographical analysis. We sampled 17 populations (280 individuals) in central Brazil and analysed the polymorphisms at chloroplast (trnS-trnG, psbA-trnH, and ycf6-trnC intergenic spacers) and nuclear (ITS nrDNA) genomes. Phylogenetic analyses based on median-joining network showed no haplotype sharing among population but strong evidence of incomplete lineage sorting. Coalescent analyses showed historical constant populations size, negligible gene flow among populations, and an ancient time to most recent common ancestor dated from ~4.7 ± 1.1 Myr BP. Most divergences dated from the Lower Pleistocene, and no signal of important population size reduction was found in coalescent tree and tests of demographical expansion. Demographical scenarios were built based on past geographical range dynamic models, using two a priori biogeographical hypotheses (‘Pleistocene Arc’ and ‘Amazonian SDF expansion’) and on two additional hypotheses suggested by the palaeodistribution modelling built with several algorithms for distribution modelling and palaeoclimatic data. The simulation of these demographical scenarios showed that the pattern of diversity found so far for T. impetiginosa is in consonance with a palaeodistribution expansion during the last glacial maximum (LGM, 21 kyr BP), strongly suggesting that the current disjunct distribution of T. impetiginosa in SDFs may represent a climatic relict of a once more wide distribution.