Phylogeography of Ramalina menziesii, a widely distributed lichen-forming fungus in western North America

Authors

  • Victoria L. Sork,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California at Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, USA
    2. Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA
    • Correspondence: Victoria L. Sork, Fax: +1-310-206-0484; E-mail: vlsork@ucla.edu

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  • Silke Werth

    1. Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California at Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, USA
    2. Biodiversity and Conservation Biology, Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL, Birmensdorf, Switzerland
    3. Life- and Environmental Sciences, University of Iceland, Reykjavik, Iceland
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Abstract

The complex topography and climate history of western North America offer a setting where lineage formation, accumulation and migration have led to elevated inter- and intraspecific biodiversity in many taxa. Here, we study Ramalina menziesii, an epiphytic lichenized fungus with a range encompassing major ecosystems from Baja California to Alaska to explore the predictions of two hypotheses: (i) that the widespread distribution of R. menziesii is due to a single migration episode from a single lineage and (ii) that the widespread distribution is due to the formation and persistence of multiple lineages structured throughout the species' range. To obtain evidence for these predictions, we first construct a phylogenetic tree and identify multiple lineages structured throughout the species' range – some ancient ones that are localized and other more recent lineages that are widely distributed. Second, we use an isolation with migration model to show that sets of ecoregion populations diverged from each other at different times, demonstrating the importance of historical and current barriers to gene flow. Third, we estimated migration rates among ecoregions and find that Baja California populations are relatively isolated, that inland California ecoregion populations do not send out emigrants and that migration out of California coastal and Pacific Northwest populations into inland California ecoregions is high. Such intraspecific geographical patterns of population persistence and dispersal both contribute to the wide range of this genetically diverse lichen fungus and provide insight into the evolutionary processes that enhance species diversity of the California Floristic Province.

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