Habitat preference differentiates the Holocene range dynamics but not barrier effects on two sympatric, congeneric trees (Tristaniopsis, Myrtaceae)

Heredity (Edinb). 2019 Oct;123(4):532-548. doi: 10.1038/s41437-019-0243-x. Epub 2019 Jun 26.


Niche partitioning can lead to differences in the range dynamics of plant species through its impacts on habitat availability, dispersal, or selection for traits that affect colonization and persistence. We investigated whether niche partitioning into upland and riparian habitats differentiates the range dynamics of two closely related and sympatric eastern Australian trees: the mountain water gum (Tristaniopsis collina) and the water gum (T. laurina). Using genomic data from SNP genotyping of 480 samples, we assessed the impact of biogeographic barriers and tested for signals of range expansion. Circuit theory was used to model isolation-by-resistance across three palaeo-environment scenarios: the Last Glacial Maximum, the Holocene Climate Optimum and present-day (1950-2014). Both trees showed similar genetic structure across historically dry barriers, despite evidence of significant environmental niche differentiation and different post-glacial habitat shifts. Tristaniopsis collina exhibits the signature of serial founder effects consistent with recent or rapid range expansion, whilst T. laurina has genetic patterns consistent with long-term persistence in geographically isolated populations despite occupying a broader bioclimatic niche. We found the minor influence of isolation-by-resistance on both species, though other unknown factors appear to shape genetic variation. We postulate that specialized recruitment traits (adapted to flood-disturbance regimes) rather than habitat availability limited post-glacial range expansion in T. laurina. Our findings indicate that niche breadth does not always facilitate range expansion through colonization and migration across barriers, though it can promote long-term persistence in situ.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Australia
  • Climate Change
  • Ecosystem
  • Genetic Variation / genetics
  • Genetics, Population*
  • Genotype
  • Myrtaceae / genetics*
  • Myrtaceae / growth & development
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide / genetics
  • Sympatry / genetics*
  • Trees / genetics*
  • Trees / growth & development
  • Water


  • Water