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García-Aloy, S., Sanmartín, I., Kadereit, G., Vitales, D., Millanes, A.M., Roquet, C., Vargas, P., Alarcón, M. and Aldasoro, J.J. 2017. Opposite trends in the genus Monsonia (Geraniaceae): Specialization in the African deserts and range expansions throughout eastern Africa. Scientific Reports, 7: DOI:10.1038/s41598-017-09834-6


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Opposite trends in the genus Monsonia (Geraniaceae): Specialization in the African deserts and range expansions throughout eastern Africa.

Summary / Notes:

The African Austroerate Flora stands out by its important species richness. A distinctive element of this flora is Monsonia (Geraniaceae), mostly found in the Namib-Karoo but also in the Natal-Drakensberg, the Somalian Zambezian and the Saharo-Arabian regions. Here, we reconstruct the evolution and biogeographic history of Monsonia based on nuclear and plastid markers, and examine the role of morphological and niche evolution in its diversification using species distribution modeling and macroevolutionary models. Our results indicate that Monsonia first diversified in the Early Miocene c.21 Ma, coinciding with the start of desertification in southwestern Africa. An important diversification occurred c. 4-6 Ma, after a general cooling trend in western South Africa and the rising of the Eastern African Mountains. The resulting two main lineages of Monsonia are constituted by: (1) Namib-Karoo succulents, and (2) herbs of the Natal-Drakensberg plus three species that further colonised steppes in north and eastern Africa. The highest diversity of Monsonia is found in the Namib-Karoo coastal belt, within a mosaic-like habitat structure. Diversification was likely driven by biome shifts and key innovations such as water-storing succulent stems and anemochorous fruits. In contrast, and unlike other arid-adapted taxa, all species of Monsonia share a C3 metabolism.

Year: 2017

Type: Journal Article

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