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Spatial and ecological effects on population differentiations on two island endemic species of a radiating plant genus of the Canary Islands

David Harter1, Mike Thiv2, Carl Beierkuhnlein1
1 Lehrstuhl für Biogeografie, Universität Bayreuth
2 Staatliches Museum für Naturkunde Stuttgart

O 2.3 in Biodiversity: Patterns, Function and Protection

11.10.2012, 10:00-10:15, H8

Adaptive population differentiation and the emergence of gene flow barriers may be first steps towards divergence and potential speciation and are therefore basic processes for the visible biodiversity on earth. Strongly structured topography and ecological heterogeneity across a species’ distributional range facilitate isolation and differentiation of populations, which makes young oceanic islands suitable places for rapid intraspecific evolutionary processes.

The Crassulacean genus Aeonium Webb & Berthel. on the Canaries archipelago is a popular example for recent species radiation on islands and therefore serves well to study processes of micro-evolution among closely related species. It includes a great and rapidly evolved diversity of distinct taxa, vicariances, ecological niches, morphological forms and eco-physiological characteristics, partially endemic to quite young islands, so recent speciation and evolutionary processes can be assumed.

Here, two ecologically different single island endemic Aeonium species of La Palma are investigated by means of population genetics to track these processes and to identify their spatial and/or ecological drivers. We reveal and compare population structures, differentiations and gene flow barriers and relate these to the topography and ecological structuring of the island, as well as to biogeographical patterns and evolutionary processes of these island endemics.

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last modified 2012-09-18