Biogeography of Coptis Salisb. (Ranunculales, Ranunculaceae, Coptidoideae), an Eastern Asian and North American genus

BMC Evolutionary Biology
Kun-Li XiangWei Wang


Numerous studies have favored dispersal (colonization) over vicariance (past fragmentation) events to explain eastern Asian-North American distribution patterns. In plants, however the disjunction between eastern Asia and western North America has been rarely examined using the integration of phylogenetic, molecular dating, and biogeographical methods. Meanwhile, the biogeographic patterns within eastern Asia remain poorly understood. The goldthread genus Coptis Salisb. includes 15 species disjunctly distributed in North America, Japan, mainland China, and Taiwan. We present a dated phylogeny for Coptis under the optimal clock model and infer its historical biogeography by comparing different biogeographic models. The split of Coptis and Xanthorhiza Marshall occurred in the middle Miocene (ca. 15.47 Ma). Coptis started their diversification in the early late Miocene (ca. 9.55 Ma). A late Miocene vicariance event resulted in the eastern Asian and western North American disjunction in the genus. Within eastern Asia, dispersals from mainland Asia to Japan and from Japan to Taiwan occurred at ca. 4.85 Ma and at ca. 1.34 Ma, respectively. Our analyses provide evidence that both vicariance and dispersal events have played important r...Continue Reading


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