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Testing which axes of species differentiation underlie covariance of phylogeographic similarity among montane sedge species

Hodel, Richard; Massatti, Rob; Bishop, Sasha; Knowles, L. Lacey

Co-distributed species may exhibit similar phylogeographic patterns due to shared environmental factors or discordant patterns attributed to the influence of species-specific traits. Although either concordant or discordant patterns could occur due to chance, stark differences in key traits (e.g., dispersal ability) may readily explain differences between species. Multiple species' attributes may affect genetic patterns, and it is difficult to isolate the contribution of each. Here we compare the relative importance of two attributes, range size and niche breadth, in shaping the spatial structure of genetic variation in four sedge species (genus Carex) from the Rocky Mountains. Within two pairs of co-distributed species, one species exhibits narrow niche breadth, while the other species has broad niche breadth. Furthermore, one pair of co-distributed species has a large geographical distribution, while the other has a small distribution. The four species represent a natural experiment to tease apart how these attributes (i.e., range size and niche breadth) affect phylogeographic patterns. Investigations of genetic variation and structure revealed that range size, but not niche breadth, is related to spatial genetic covariation across species of montane sedges. Our study highlights how isolating key attributes across multiple species can inform their impact on processes driving intraspecific differentiation.

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