Sea-level driven glacial-age refugia and post-glacial mixing on subtropical coasts, a palaeohabitat and genetic study.
ABSTRACT: Using a novel combination of palaeohabitat modelling and genetic mixture analyses, we identify and assess a sea-level-driven recolonization process following the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM). Our palaeohabitat modelling reveals dramatic changes in estuarine habitat distribution along the coast of California (USA) and Baja California (Mexico). At the LGM (approx. 20 kya), when sea level was approximately 130 m lower, the palaeo-shoreline was too steep for tidal estuarine habitat formation, eliminating this habitat type from regions where it is currently most abundant, and limiting such estuaries to a northern and a southern refugium separated by 1000 km. We assess the recolonization of estuaries formed during post-LGM sea-level rise through examination of refugium-associated alleles and approximate Bayesian computation in three species of estuarine fishes. Results reveal sourcing of modern populations from both refugia, which admix in the newly formed habitat between the refuges. We infer a dramatic peak in habitat area between 15 and 10 kya with subsequent decline. Overall, this approach revealed a previously undocumented dynamic and integrated relationship between sea-level change, coastal processes and population genetics. These results extend glacial refugial dynamics to unglaciated subtropical coasts and have significant implications for biotic response to predicted sea-level rise.
Project description:Alternating glacial and interglacial periods during the Quaternary have dramatically affected the distribution and population genetic structure of plant and animal species throughout the northern hemisphere. Surprisingly, little is known about the post-glacial recolonization history of wetland herbaceous perennials that are widely distributed in the understory of deciduous or mixed deciduous-evergreen forests in eastern North America. In this study, we investigated infraspecific variation among 32 populations of skunk cabbage, Symplocarpus foetidus, to test the hypothesis that the extant species diversity of skunk cabbage is the result of a post-glacial range expansion from southern refugia during the Quaternary Ice Age. A total of 4041 base pairs (bp) of the chloroplast intergenic spacer region (cpDNA) was sequenced from 485 individuals sampled from glaciated (18 populations, 275 individuals) and unglaciated (14 populations, 210 individuals) regions east and west of the Appalachian Mountains. Haplotype number, haplotype diversity, and nucleotide diversity were calculated, and genetic variation within and among populations was assessed by analysis of molecular variance (AMOVA). The geographic pattern of genetic differentiation was further investigated with a spatial analysis of molecular variance (SAMOVA). A total of eight haplotypes and three genetic groups (SAMOVA) were recovered and a much higher haplotype number (eight haplotypes) and haplotype diversity (0.7425) was observed in unglaciated compared to glaciated populations (five haplotypes, haplotype diversity = 0.6099). All haplotypes found in glaciated regions represented a subset of haplotypes found in unglaciated regions. Haplotypes of S. foetidus likely diverged during the Tertiary (mid-Miocene and late Pliocene), predating the last glacial maximum (LGM). Predictions based on ecological niche modeling (ENM) suggested that there was considerably less suitable habitat for skunk cabbage during the LGM, and the habitat range was further south compared to the current distribution. Reduced variation and a subset of haplotypes in glaciated regions suggest a founder effect associated with range expansion via long-distance seed dispersal. Our results do not support the "Driftless Area" scenario for the northern refugium, rather the data suggest a "Northeastern" refugium near the southernmost extent of the LGM.
Project description:One of the most relevant characteristics of the extant Southern Ocean fauna is its resiliency to survive glacial processes of the Quaternary. These climatic events produced catastrophic habitat reductions and forced some marine benthic species to move, adapt or go extinct. The marine benthic species inhabiting the Antarctic upper continental shelf faced the Quaternary glaciations with different strategies that drastically modified population sizes and thus affected the amount and distribution of intraspecific genetic variation. Here we present new genetic information for the most conspicuous regular sea urchin of the Antarctic continental shelf, Sterechinus neumayeri. We studied the patterns of genetic diversity and structure in this broadcast-spawner across three Antarctic regions: Antarctic Peninsula, the Weddell Sea and Adélie Land in East Antarctica. Genetic analyses based on mitochondrial and nuclear markers suggested that S. neumayeri is a single genetic unit around the Antarctic continent. The species is characterized by low levels of genetic diversity and exhibits a typical star-like haplotype genealogy that supports the hypothesis of a single in situ refugium. Based on two mutation rates standardized for this genus, the Bayesian Skyline plot analyses detected a rapid demographic expansion after the Last Glacial Maximum. We propose a scenario of rapid postglacial expansion and recolonization of Antarctic shallow areas from a less ice-impacted refugium where the species survived the LGM. Considering the patterns of genetic diversity and structure recorded in the species, this refugium was probably located in East Antarctica.
Project description:A precise inference of past demographic histories including dating of demographic events using bayesian methods can only be achieved with the use of appropriate molecular rates and evolutionary models. Using a set of 596 mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase I (COI) sequences of two sister species of European green crabs of the genus Carcinus (C. maenas and C. aestuarii), our study shows how chronologies of past evolutionary events change significantly with the application of revised molecular rates that incorporate biogeographic events for calibration and appropriate demographic priors. A clear signal of demographic expansion was found for both species, dated between 10,000 and 20,000 years ago, which places the expansions events in a time frame following the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM). In the case of C. aestuarii, a population expansion was only inferred for the Adriatic-Ionian, suggestive of a colonization event following the flooding of the Adriatic Sea (18,000 years ago). For C. maenas, the demographic expansion inferred for the continental populations of West and North Europe might result from a northward recolonization from a southern refugium when the ice sheet retreated after the LGM. Collectively, our results highlight the importance of using adequate calibrations and demographic priors in order to avoid considerable overestimates of evolutionary time scales.
Project description:The end of the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) dramatically reshaped temperate ecosystems, with many species moving poleward as temperatures rose and ice receded. Whereas reinvading terrestrial taxa tracked melting glaciers, marine biota recolonized ocean habitats freed by retreating sea ice. The extent of sea ice in the Southern Hemisphere during the LGM has, however, yet to be fully resolved, with most palaeogeographic studies suggesting only minimal or patchy ice cover in subantarctic waters. Here, through population genetic analyses of the widespread Southern Bull Kelp (Durvillaea antarctica), we present evidence for persistent ice scour affecting subantarctic islands during the LGM. Using mitochondrial and chloroplast genetic markers (COI; rbcL) to genetically characterize some 300 kelp samples from 45 Southern Ocean localities, we reveal a remarkable pattern of recent recolonization in the subantarctic. Specifically, in contrast to the marked phylogeographic structure observed across coastal New Zealand and Chile (10- to 100-km scales), subantarctic samples show striking genetic homogeneity over vast distances (10,000-km scales), with a single widespread haplotype observed for each marker. From these results, we suggest that sea ice expanded further and ice scour during the LGM impacted shallow-water subantarctic marine ecosystems more extensively than previously suggested.
Project description:Recovering species are often limited to much smaller areas than they historically occupied. Conservation planning for the recovering species is often based on this limited range, which may simply be an artifact of where the surviving population persisted. Southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis) were hunted nearly to extinction but recovered from a small remnant population on a remote stretch of the California outer coast, where most of their recovery has occurred. However, studies of recently-recolonized estuaries have revealed that estuaries can provide southern sea otters with high quality habitats featuring shallow waters, high production and ample food, limited predators, and protected haul-out opportunities. Moreover, sea otters can have strong effects on estuarine ecosystems, fostering seagrass resilience through their consumption of invertebrate prey. Using a combination of literature reviews, population modeling, and prey surveys we explored the former estuarine habitats outside the current southern sea otter range to determine if these estuarine habitats can support healthy sea otter populations. We found the majority of studies and conservation efforts have focused on populations in exposed, rocky coastal habitats. Yet historical evidence indicates that sea otters were also formerly ubiquitous in estuaries. Our habitat-specific population growth model for California's largest estuary-San Francisco Bay-determined that it alone can support about 6,600 sea otters, more than double the 2018 California population. Prey surveys in estuaries currently with (Elkhorn Slough and Morro Bay) and without (San Francisco Bay and Drakes Estero) sea otters indicated that the availability of prey, especially crabs, is sufficient to support healthy sea otter populations. Combining historical evidence with our results, we show that conservation practitioners could consider former estuarine habitats as targets for sea otter and ecosystem restoration. This study reveals the importance of understanding how recovering species interact with all the ecosystems they historically occupied, both for improved conservation of the recovering species and for successful restoration of ecosystem functions and processes.
Project description:The northern microrefugia that existed during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) are a key factor in the demographic history of species. Pinus koraiensis has a unique distribution in northeast Asia. The Changbai Mountains and the Korean peninsula (CM/KP) are usually considered to be the LGM refugia for P. koraiensis. However, the Xiaoxingan Range (XR), at the northern part of this species' distribution, is another possible refugium. We used chloroplast sequencing and ten nuclear single-copy gene loci to calculate the genetic diversity pattern of P. koraiensis. The probabilities of a single LGM refugium and of multiple LGM refugia were calculated based on approximate Bayesian computation. The effect of the latitudinal gradient on genetic diversity was not significant. However, unique alleles occurred at low frequencies in CM/KP and XR. A conservative estimate of the coalescence time between CM/KP and XR is 0.4 million years ago, a time prior to the LGM. Gene flow between CM/KP and XR was estimated to be more than one in per generation, an amount that may be sufficient to limit genetic divergence between the regions. Our study strongly supports the hypothesis that XR was another LGM refugium in addition to CM/KP.
Project description:Repeated recolonization of freshwater environments following Pleistocene glaciations has played a major role in the evolution and adaptation of anadromous taxa. Located at the western fringe of Europe, Ireland and Britain were likely recolonized rapidly by anadromous fishes from the North Atlantic following the last glacial maximum (LGM). While the presence of unique mitochondrial haplotypes in Ireland suggests that a cryptic northern refugium may have played a role in recolonization, no explicit test of this hypothesis has been conducted. The three-spined stickleback is native and ubiquitous to aquatic ecosystems throughout Ireland, making it an excellent model species with which to examine the biogeographical history of anadromous fishes in the region. We used mitochondrial and microsatellite markers to examine the presence of divergent evolutionary lineages and to assess broad-scale patterns of geographical clustering among postglacially isolated populations. Our results confirm that Ireland is a region of secondary contact for divergent mitochondrial lineages and that endemic haplotypes occur in populations in Central and Southern Ireland. To test whether a putative Irish lineage arose from a cryptic Irish refugium, we used approximate Bayesian computation (ABC). However, we found no support for this hypothesis. Instead, the Irish lineage likely diverged from the European lineage as a result of postglacial isolation of freshwater populations by rising sea levels. These findings emphasize the need to rigorously test biogeographical hypothesis and contribute further evidence that postglacial processes may have shaped genetic diversity in temperate fauna.
Project description:Effective conservation and restoration of estuarine wetlands require accurate maps of their historical and current extent, as well as estimated losses of these valued habitats. Existing coast-wide tidal wetland mapping does not explicitly map historical tidal wetlands that are now disconnected from the tides, which represent restoration opportunities; nor does it use water level models or high-resolution elevation data (e.g. lidar) to accurately identify current tidal wetlands. To better inform estuarine conservation and restoration, we generated new maps of current and historical tidal wetlands for the entire contiguous U.S. West Coast (Washington, Oregon, and California). The new maps are based on an Elevation-Based Estuary Extent Model (EBEEM) that combines lidar digital elevation models (DEMs) and water level models to establish the maximum historical extent of tidal wetlands, representing a major step forward in mapping accuracy for restoration planning and analysis of wetland loss. Building from this new base, we also developed an indirect method for mapping tidal wetland losses, and created maps of these losses for 55 estuaries on the West Coast (representing about 97% of historical West Coast vegetated tidal wetland area). Based on these new maps, we estimated that total historical estuary area for the West Coast is approximately 735,000 hectares (including vegetated and nonvegetated areas), and that about 85% of vegetated tidal wetlands have been lost from West Coast estuaries. Losses were highest for major river deltas. The new maps will help interested groups improve action plans for estuarine wetland habitat restoration and conservation, and will also provide a better baseline for understanding and predicting future changes with projected sea level rise.
Project description:Hydrodynamic modelling of Australia's lower Murray River demonstrates the response of a large coastal plain estuary to the mid-Holocene (7,000-6,000 yr BP) sea-level highstand. The approximately two metre higher-than-present sea level during the highstand forced the estuarine limit upstream generating an extensive central basin environment extending more than 200 kilometres from the river mouth (143 kilometres upstream of the modern tidal limit). The geomorphic history of the region does not conform to conventional estuarine facies models as, for much of the Holocene, the lower Murray River acted as a landward, gorge-confined extension of the Murray estuary. The incredibly low relief of this coastal plain system drove significant saline incursion and limited current velocities across the estuary facilitating deposition of a laminated silt-clay sequence which our results suggest may be regionally extensive. Variations to discharge, barrier morphology, or the estuary's bathymetry result in minimal change to the estuarine palaeo-environment. The shift to the present-day fresher water distribution in the Murray estuary requires a fall in sea level to present-day conditions. The dominance of sea level as the controlling factor on this estuarine palaeo-environment highlights the significant potential impact of climate change induced sea-level rise to coastal plain estuaries.
Project description:The forest refuge hypothesis (FRH) has long been a paradigm for explaining the extreme biological diversity of tropical forests. According to this hypothesis, forest retraction and fragmentation during glacial periods would have promoted reproductive isolation and consequently speciation in forest patches (ecological refuges) surrounded by open habitats. The recent use of paleoclimatic models of species and habitat distributions revitalized the FRH, not by considering refuges as the main drivers of allopatric speciation, but instead by suggesting that high contemporary diversity is associated with historically stable forest areas. However, the role of the emerged continental shelf on the Atlantic Forest biodiversity hotspot of eastern South America during glacial periods has been ignored in the literature. Here, we combined results of species distribution models with coalescent simulations based on DNA sequences to explore the congruence between scenarios of forest dynamics through time and the genetic structure of mammal species cooccurring in the central region of the Atlantic Forest. Contrary to the FRH predictions, we found more fragmentation of suitable habitats during the last interglacial (LIG) and the present than in the last glacial maximum (LGM), probably due to topography. We also detected expansion of suitable climatic conditions onto the emerged continental shelf during the LGM, which would have allowed forests and forest-adapted species to expand. The interplay of sea level and land distribution must have been crucial in the biogeographic history of the Atlantic Forest, and forest refuges played only a minor role, if any, in this biodiversity hotspot during glacial periods.