Temperate radiations and dying embers of a tropical past: the diversification of Viburnum

New Phytol. 2015 Jul;207(2):340-354. doi: 10.1111/nph.13305. Epub 2015 Feb 3.


We used a near-complete phylogeny for the angiosperm clade Viburnum to assess lineage diversification rates, and to examine possible morphological and ecological factors driving radiations. Maximum-likelihood and Bayesian approaches identified shifts in diversification rate and possible links to character evolution. We inferred the ancestral environment for Viburnum and changes in diversification dynamics associated with subsequent biome shifts. Viburnum probably diversified in tropical forests of Southeast Asia in the Eocene, with three subsequent radiations in temperate clades during the Miocene. Four traits (purple fruits, extrafloral nectaries, bud scales and toothed leaves) were statistically associated with higher rates of diversification. However, we argue that these traits are unlikely to be driving diversification directly. Instead, two radiations were associated with the occupation of mountainous regions and a third with repeated shifts between colder and warmer temperate forests. Early-branching depauperate lineages imply that the rare lowland tropical species are 'dying embers' of once more diverse lineages; net diversification rates in Viburnum likely decreased in these tropical environments after the Oligocene. We suggest that 'taxon pulse' dynamics might characterize other temperate plant lineages.

Keywords: Viburnum; biome shift; diversification; extinction rate; speciation rate; taxon pulse; temperate forests; tropical forests.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Bayes Theorem
  • Biodiversity*
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Climate*
  • Ecology
  • Ecosystem
  • Phenotype*
  • Phylogeny*
  • Rainforest*
  • Temperature
  • Viburnum / genetics*