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Keywords:

  • climate change;
  • Fucus vesiculosus ;
  • genetic diversity;
  • niche modelling;
  • range shifts;
  • rear edge

Abstract

The climate-driven dynamics of species ranges is a critical research question in evolutionary ecology. We ask whether present intraspecific diversity is determined by the imprint of past climate. This is an ongoing debate requiring interdisciplinary examination of population genetic pools and persistence patterns across global ranges. Previously, contrasting inferences and predictions have resulted from distinct genomic coverage and/or geographical information. We aim to describe and explain the causes of geographical contrasts in genetic diversity and their consequences for the future baseline of the global genetic pool, by comparing present geographical distribution of genetic diversity and differentiation with predictive species distribution modelling (SDM) during past extremes, present time and future climate scenarios for a brown alga, Fucus vesiculosus. SDM showed that both atmospheric and oceanic variables shape the global distribution of intertidal species, revealing regions of persistence, extinction and expansion during glacial and postglacial periods. These explained the distribution and structure of present genetic diversity, consisting of differentiated genetic pools with maximal diversity in areas of long-term persistence. Most of the present species range comprises postglacial expansion zones and, in contrast to highly dispersive marine organisms, expansions involved only local fronts, leaving distinct genetic pools at rear edges. Besides unravelling a complex phylogeographical history and showing congruence between genetic diversity and persistent distribution zones, supporting the hypothesis of niche conservatism, range shifts and loss of unique genetic diversity at the rear edge were predicted for future climate scenarios, impoverishing the global gene pool.