Past climate change and plant evolution in Western North America: a case study in Rosaceae.
Biological Evolution, climate, Climate Change, DNA, North America, Phylogeny, Plant, Plant: genetics, Rosaceae, Rosaceae: genetics
Species in the ivesioid clade of Potentilla (Rosaceae) are endemic to western North America, an area that underwent widespread aridification during the global temperature decrease following the Mid-Miocene Climatic Optimum. Several morphological features interpreted as adaptations to drought are found in the clade, and many species occupy extremely dry habitats. Recent phylogenetic analyses have shown that the sister group of this clade is Potentilla section Rivales, a group with distinct moist habitat preferences. This has led to the hypothesis that the ivesioids (genera Ivesia, Horkelia and Horkeliella) diversified in response to the late Tertiary aridification of western North America. We used phyloclimatic modeling and a fossil-calibrated dated phylogeny of the family Rosaceae to investigate the evolution of the ivesioid clade. We have combined occurrence- and climate data from extant species, and used ancestral state reconstruction to model past climate preferences. These models have been projected into paleo-climatic scenarios in order to identify areas where the ivesioids may have occurred. Our analysis suggests a split between the ivesioids and Potentilla sect. Rivales around Late Oligocene/Early Miocene (∼23 million years ago, Ma), and that the ivesioids then diversified at a time when summer drought started to appear in the region. The clade is inferred to have originated on the western slopes of the Rocky Mountains from where a westward range expansion to the Sierra Nevada and the coast of California took place between ∼12-2 Ma. Our results support the idea that climatic changes in southwestern North America have played an important role in the evolution of the local flora, by means of in situ adaptation followed by diversification.