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Protocols in ecological and environmental plant physiology


Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 55(3)

Phylogeography provides an evolutionary context for the conservation of a diverse and ancient flora

M. Byrne

Science Division, Department of Environment and Conservation, Locked Bag 104, Bentley Delivery Centre, WA 6983, Australia. Email: margaretb@calm.wa.gov.au
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Phylogeography can inform conservation strategies through assessment of genetic diversity that incorporates an evolutionary perspective, and allows evaluation within a geographical context, thus providing integration with other biogeographical information. Comparative phylogeography can identify significant historical processes that have had major influences on the biota and provides a historical context for understanding current species distributions. The phylogeographic patterns in the flora of south-western Australia are reviewed. Concordant patterns of lineage divergence in three unrelated taxa from separate families with widespread distributions indicate a common response to major historical processes involved in Pleistocene climatic fluctuations. Identification of highly divergent haplotypes in some species indicates areas that may represent refugia during times of climatic instability. Analysis of phylogeographic patterns in the flora of south-western Australia has revealed the influence of historical climate change in promoting high phylogenetic diversity within species that is comparable to the high species diversity that is well known in the Western Australian flora. Knowledge of historical influences and species responses provides an evolutionary context for conservation management strategies that facilitate the continued action of dynamic evolutionary processes.

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