While many species were confined to southern latitudes during the last glaciations, there has lately been mounting evidence that some of the most cold-tolerant species were actually able to survive close to the ice sheets. The contribution of these higher latitude outposts to the main recolonization thrust remains, however, untested. In the present study, we use the first range-wide survey of genetic diversity at cytoplasmic markers in Siberian larch (Larix sibirica; four mitochondrial (mt) DNA loci and five chloroplast (cp) DNA SSR loci) to (i) assess the relative contributions of southern and central areas to the current L. sibirica distribution range; and (ii) date the last major population expansion in both L. sibirica and adjacent Larix species. The geographic distribution of cpDNA variation was uninformative, but that of mitotypes clearly indicates that the southernmost populations, located in Mongolia and the Tien-Shan and Sayan Mountain ranges, had a very limited contribution to the current populations of the central and northern parts of the range. It also suggests that the contribution of the high latitude cryptic refugia was geographically limited and that most of the current West Siberian Plain larch populations likely originated in the foothills of the Sayan Mountains. Interestingly, the main population expansion detected through Approximate Bayesian Computation (ABC) in all four larch species investigated here pre-dates the LGM, with a mode in a range of 220,000-1,340,000 years BP. Hence, L. sibirica, like other major conifer species of the boreal forest, was strongly affected by climatic events pre-dating the Last Glacial Maximum.
Keywords: Larix; West Siberia; biogeography; cpDNA; glacial refugia; mtDNA.
© 2013 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.