Contrasting phylogeographical patterns of two closely related species, Machilus thunbergii and Machilus kusanoi Lauraceae), in Taiwan

Su Hwa Wu, Ching Yuan Hwang, Tsan Piao Lin, Jeng Der Chung, Yu Pin Cheng, Shih Ying Hwang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Citations (Scopus)


Aim: The purpose of this paper was to study the patterns of genetic variation, demographic history, haplotype relationships and potential location of diversity centres of two closely related species, Machilus thunbergii and Machilus kusanoi. Location: The phylogeography of M. thunbergii and M. kusanoi was examined by sampling 110 and 106 individuals from 25 and 16 sampling sites, respectively, across their distributional range in Taiwan. Machilus thunbergii is distributed on the Asian mainland, South Korea, southern Japan, the Ryukyus, Taiwan and the Philippines, whereas M. kusanoi is endemic to Taiwan. These two species are closely related, and both are widely distributed in Taiwan but occupy different altitudinal zones and habitats. Methods: The range-wide variation of M. thunbergii and M. kusanoi in Taiwan was studied using chloroplast DNA (cpDNA) variations. A haplotype network was constructed with the computer program tcs. Nested clade analysis was conducted with the computer program ceodis, and various parameters of genetic diversity were calculated and neutrality tested by the computer program DnaSP. Population differentiation was estimated using the programs arlequin and hapstep. The contribution of the populations to gene diversity and to allelic richness was calculated using the software contrib. The level of divergence for each population from the remaining populations was calculated as the mean value of pairwise F ST for each population against the rest of the populations. Results: Extremely low levels of genetic differentiation were found for both species. This result suggested that these two species probably survived in multiple relict refugia with different population sizes throughout the island during low-temperature periods of the Pleistocene. In addition, nested clade analysis (NCA) of cpDNA haplotypes indicated that restricted gene flow with isolation-by-distance characterized the recolonization after the Pleistocene by Tashueshan and Shiouhluan populations of M. thunbergii in the north-central area west of the Central Mountain Range (CMR). In contrast, NCA analysis indicated that a major diversity centre on the southern tip of the island (Kending population) and contiguous range expansion characterized the recolonization by M. kusanoi of northern areas along the east side of the CMR. The major diversity centres found for the two species examined were further supported by the results of the mean F ST for individual populations in comparison with other populations, and of the contribution of the divergence component to the total diversity. Main conclusions: This research supports the multiple relict refugia hypothesis for both species investigated. Populations of M. thunbergii at Shiouhluan and Tashueshan in the north-central area west of the CMR represent a diversity centre currently expanding its size. A diversity centre at the southern-edge population of M. kusanoi, and a contiguous range expansion from Kending, were found. These results indicate that the M. thunbergii populations at Tashueshan and Shiouhluan and the M. kusanoi population at Kending, and even Soukar, are evolutionarily significant units for conservation programmes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)936-947
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Biogeography
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2006 May
Externally publishedYes


  • Conservation
  • Diversity centre
  • Machilus kusanoi
  • Machilus thunbergii
  • Phylogeography
  • Taiwan
  • cpDNA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology


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