Evolution in Australia's mesic biome under past and future climates: Insights from a phylogenetic study of the Australian Rock Orchids (Dendrobium speciosum complex, Orchidaceae)
Abstract The Australian mesic biome spans c. 33° of latitude along Australia’s east coast and ranges and is dissected by historical and contemporary biogeographical barriers. To investigate the impact of these barriers on evolutionary diversification and to predict the impact of future climate change on the distribution of species and genetic diversity within this biome, we inferred phylogenetic relationships within the Dendrobium speciosum complex (Orchidaceae) across its distribution and undertook environmental niche modelling (ENM) under past, contemporary and projected future climates. Neighbor Joining tree inference, NeighborNet and STRUCTURE analyses of Amplified Fragment Length Polymorphism (AFLP) profiles for D. speciosum sampled from across its distribution showed that the complex consists of two highly supported main groups that are geographically separated by the St. Lawrence gap, an area of dry sclerophyll forest and woodland. The presence of several highly admixed individuals identified by the STRUCTURE analysis provided evidence of genetic exchange between the two groups across this gap. Whereas previous treatments have recognised between one to eleven species, the molecular results support the taxonomic treatment of the complex as a single species with two subspecies. The ENM analysis supported the hypothesis that lineage divergence within the complex was driven by past climatic changes. The St. Lawrence gap represented a stronger biogeographic barrier for the D. speciosum complex during the cool and dry glacial climatic conditions of the Pleistocene than under today’s interglacial conditions. Shallow genetic divergence was found within the two lineages, which mainly corresponded to three other biogeographic barriers: the Black Mountain Corridor, Glass House Mountains and the Hunter Valley. Our ENM analyses provide further support for the hypothesis that biogeographic barriers along Australia’s east coast were somewhat permeable to genetic exchange due to past episodic range expansions and contractions caused by climatic change resulting in recurrent contact between previously isolated populations. An overall southward shift in the distribution of the complex under future climate scenarios was predicted, with the strongest effects on the northern lineage. This study contributes to our understanding of the factors shaping biodiversity patterns in Australia’s mesic biome. Highlights The complex consists of two main genetic lineages separated by the St. Lawrence gap. Genetically admixed individuals indicate gene flow across the St. Lawrence gap. A taxonomy consisting of one species and two subspecies is supported. Divergence within the complex was driven by past climatic conditions. Under future climates the most extensive declines are expected for the northern lineage. Graphical abstract [DISPLAY OMISSION]
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