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Tropical Forests and Global Atmospheric Change$
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Yadvinder Malhi and Oliver Phillips

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780198567066

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198567066.001.0001

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Climate change and speciation in neotropical seasonally dry forest plants

Climate change and speciation in neotropical seasonally dry forest plants

(p.199) CHAPTER 17 Climate change and speciation in neotropical seasonally dry forest plants
Tropical Forests and Global Atmospheric Change

R. Toby Pennington

Matt Lavin

Darién E. Prado

Colin A. Pendry

Susan K. Pell

Oxford University Press

Historical climate changes have had a major effect on the distribution and evolution of plant species in the neotropics. What is more controversial is whether relatively recent and rapid Pleistocene climatic changes have driven speciation, or whether neotropical species diversity is more ancient. This question is addressed using evolutionary rates analysis of nuclear ribosomal internal transcribed spacers (ITS) sequence data on diverse taxa occupying neotropical seasonally dry forests: Ruprechtia (Polygonaceae), robinioid legumes (Leguminosae), Chaetocalyx and Nissolia (Leguminosae), and Loxopterygium (Anacardiaceae). Species diversifications in these taxa occurred both during and before the Pleistocene in Central America, but were primarily pre-Pleistocene in South America. This indicates plausibility both for models that predict tropical species diversity to be recent and that invoke a role for Pleistocene climatic change, and those that consider it ancient and implicate geological factors such as the Andean orogeny and the closure of the Panama Isthmus.

Keywords:   climate change, speciation, neotropical plants, seasonally dry tropical forests, evolutionary rates analysis

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