Australian Journal of Botany Australian Journal of Botany Society
Southern hemisphere botanical ecosystems
RESEARCH ARTICLE

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

M. Byrne
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

Science Division, Department of Environment and Conservation, Locked Bag 104, Bentley Delivery Centre, WA 6983, Australia. Email: margaretb@calm.wa.gov.au

Australian Journal of Botany 55(3) 316-325 https://doi.org/10.1071/BT06072
Submitted: 7 April 2006  Accepted: 22 August 2006   Published: 18 May 2007

Abstract

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.


Acknowledgements

I thank Bronwyn Macdonald for ongoing technical support, and David Coates and Stephen Hopper for valuable discussions of historical impacts on the Western Australian flora.


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