ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Demographic history and range modelling of the East Mediterranean Abies cilicica
 
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1
Institute of Dendrology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Parkowa 5, 62-035 Kórnik, Poland
 
2
University of Zielona Góra, Institute of Biological Sciences, Szafrana 1, 65-516, Zielona Góra, Poland
 
3
Poznań University of Life Sciences, Department of Botany, Wojska Polskiego 71c, 60-625 Poznań, Poland
 
4
Poznań University of Life Sciences, Department of Silviculture, Wojska Polskiego 71a, 60-625 Poznań, Poland
 
 
Online publication date: 2021-12-31
 
 
Publication date: 2021-12-31
 
 
Plant and Fungal Systematics 2021; 66(2): 122-132
 
KEYWORDS
ABSTRACT
The Mediterranean Basin is one of the 36 global hotspots of biodiversity and it is rich in endemic tree species. The complex geological history of the region throughout the Neogene and Quaternary periods that were marked with several palaeoclimatic transformations was a major factor triggering the genetic divergence of lineages in tree species in the region. The ongoing global climate change is the main factor threatening Mediterranean biodiversity. The risk of population decline related to aridization is the highest in the case of endemics, especially for cold-adapted conifers, such as Abies cilicica. The Cilician fir grows in the East Mediterranean mountains that constitute a local centre of endemism within the region. The species range is fragmented and small-size populations prevail. Previous studies have suggested that the last glacial cycle led to a significant reduction in the species range and might have initiated genetic divergence. As a result, two lineages are currently recognized at the subspecies level, A. cilicica subsp. isaurica (Turkey) and A. cilicica subsp. cilicica (Turkey, Syria, and Lebanon). The predictions about the impact of future climate changes in the East Mediterranean suggest a profound reduction of precipitation and overall warming that may put the remnant populations of A. cilicica at a risk of decline. Here, we used the Bayesian approach to investigate the demographic history of endemic A. cilicica. Specifically, we estimated the probable time of the intraspecies divergence to verify previous assumptions about the species’ evolutionary history. Additionally, niche modelling was used to outline the potential range of changes in the past and to indicate glacial refugia in where the species persisted climate crisis. This approach was also used to explore the possible influence of the future climate changes on the distribution of A. cilicica in the region. Our results demonstrate that the divergence between the Lebanese and the Turkish populations that occurred ~220 ka years BP coincided with the Riss glaciation. According to palaeoecological data, in the East Mediterranean, that glacial period caused a severe reduction in the populations of woody species due to the aridity of the climate. At that time, the Lebanese-Syrian part of the range was likely disconnected from the main range. The second split was induced by the last glacial cycle ~60 ka years BP and led to the separation of the Central Taurus and East Taurus population and, consequently, to the formation of the two subspecies. Niche modelling for the last glacial maximum has allowed us to locate the probable refugia for A. cilicica in the western Anatolia and Syria-Lebanon area. A projection of the future possible distribution of the species indicates a serious reduction of the range during this century.
 
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