Using a Combination of Phylogenetic Comparative and Paleobotanical Methods to Elucidate Patterns of Lineage Selection in Rosales (Plantae: Anthophyta)

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Date

2016

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Abstract

An increasing focus in evolutionary biology is on the interplay between mesoscale ecological and evolutionary processes such as population demographics, habitat tolerance, and especially geographic distribution, as potential drivers responsible for patterns of diversification and extinction over geologic time. However, few studies to date connect organismal processes such as survival and reproduction through mesoscale patterns to long-term macroevolutionary trends. In my dissertation, I investigate how mechanism of seed dispersal, mediated through geographic range size, influences diversification rates in the Rosales (Plantae: Anthophyta).

In my first chapter, I validate the phylogenetic comparative methods that I use in my second and third chapters. Available state speciation and extinction (SSE) models assumptions about evolution known to be false through fossil data. I show, however, that as long as net diversification rates remain positive – a condition likely true for the Rosales – these violations of SSE’s assumptions do not cause significantly biased results.

With SSE methods validated, my second chapter reconstructs three associations that appear to increase diversification rate for Rosalean genera: (1) herbaceous habit; (2) a three-way interaction combining animal dispersal, high within-genus species richness, and geographic range on multiple continents; (3) a four-way interaction combining woody habit with the other three characteristics of (2). I suggest that the three- and four-way interactions represent colonization ability and resulting extinction resistance in the face of late Cenozoic climate change; however, there are other possibilities as well that I hope to investigate in future research. My third chapter reconstructs the phylogeographic history of the Rosales using both non-fossil-assisted SSE methods as well as fossil-informed traditional phylogeographic analysis. Ancestral state reconstructions indicate that the Rosaceae diversified in North America while the other Rosalean families diversified elsewhere, possibly in Eurasia. SSE is able to successfully identify groups of genera that were likely to have been ancestrally widespread, but has poorer taxonomic resolution than methods that use fossil data.

In conclusion, these chapters together suggest several potential causal links between organismal, mesoscale, and geologic scale processes, but further work will be needed to test the hypotheses that I raise here.

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