Integrating historical biogeography and environmental niche evolution to understand the geographic distribution of Datureae

Julia Dupin, Stacey D Smith
American Journal of Botany 2019 May 6

PREMISE: The distributions of plant clades are shaped by abiotic and biotic factors as well as historical aspects such as center of origin. Dispersals between distant areas may lead to niche evolution when lineages are established in new environments. Alternatively, dispersing lineages may exhibit niche conservatism, moving between areas with similar environmental conditions. Here we test these contrasting hypotheses in the Datureae clade (Solanaceae).

METHODS: We used maximum likelihood methods to estimate the ancestral range of Datureae along with the history of biogeographic events. We then characterized the niche of each taxon using climatic and soil variables and tested for shifts in environmental niche optima. Finally, we examined how these shifts relate to the niche breadth of taxa and clades within Datureae and the degree of overlap between them.

RESULTS: Datureae originated in the Andes and subsequently expanded its range to North America and non-Andean regions of South America. The ancestral niche, and that of most Datura and Trompettia species, is dry, while Brugmansia species likely shifted toward a more mesic environment. Nonetheless, most Datureae present moderate to high overlap in niche breadth today.

CONCLUSIONS: The expansion of Datureae into North America was associated with niche conservatism, with dispersal into similarly dry areas as occupied by the ancestral lineage. Subsequent niche evolution, including the apparent shift to a mesic niche in Brugmansia, diversified the range of habitats occupied by species in the tribe Datureae but also led to significant niche overlap among the three genera.


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