Trailing edge populations of upward migrating species induced by postglacial climatic warming can be evolutionarily significant in the face of global warming. We tested for population size changes between lower- and higher-elevation populations located in the same mountainous regions of the upward-shifting temperate woody species of the Rhododendron pseudochrysanthum complex in Taiwan. We also tested whether natural selection evoked adaptive divergence in trailing edge populations of this species complex. We genotyped 26 expressed sequence tag-simple sequence repeat (EST-SSR) loci of 185 individuals from nine populations of the R. pseudochrysanthum complex including Rhododendron rubropunctatum, Rhododendron hyperythrum, Rhododendron morii, and R. pseudochrysanthum. R. rubropunctatum populations in the R. pseudochrysanthum complex possessed the lowest estimates of genetic diversity and effective population size. Higher-elevation R. pseudochrysanthum populations had lower effective population sizes than lower-elevation R. morii populations in Hohuanshan and Tahsueshan, as revealed by estimates using both MIGRATE-N and approximate Bayesian computation (ABC). R. rubropunctatum populations diverged significantly from populations of other members of the R. pseudochrysanthum complex. An outlier potentially under positive selection specific to R. rubropunctatum populations was identified and strongly associated with ecologically relevant environmental variables. Postglacial climatic warming has a significant influence on population isolation in the R. pseudochrysanthum complex. The results indicate adaptive evolution in the trailing edge populations, i.e., R. rubropunctatum populations of the upward shifting R. pseudochrysanthum complex.
Rhododendron pseudochrysanthum cmplex_26loci
Microsatellite data format: microsatellite analalyzer. RTG: Rhododendron rubropunctatum population Tsaigongkeng; RTK: R. rubropunctatum population Tsankuanliao; PTH: R. pseudochrysanthum population Tashueshan; PHH: R. pseudochrysanthum population Hohuanshan; PLL: R. pseudochrysanthum population Lulinshan; MAL: R. morii population Alishan; MTH: R. morii population Tashueshan; MHH: R. morii population Hohuanshan; HNH: R. hyperythrum population Nanhutashan