Biogeography is the study of where, when, and how modern species evolved and diversified. Acer L. (maple) is one of the most diverse and widespread genera in the Northern Hemisphere. It comprises 124–156 species in the world, approximately 80% species of Acer are native in Asia. The current diversity center of Acer is not congruent with the distribution of the oldest fossils of the genus. Therefore, we herein used 84 species and subspecies to reconstruct the phylogeny and investigate the biogeographic history of Acer using nuclear ITS and three cpDNA fragments (psbA-trnH spacer, rpl16 intron, and trnL-trnF spacer) with maximum likelihood, maximum parsimony, and Bayesian inference methods. The analyses showed that the current diversity center and the origin center of Acer is Asia. Additionally, the North American and Euro-Mediterranean species originated from multiple sources from Asia via the North Atlantic Land Bridge and the Bering Land Bridge, and intercontinental migration has mainly occurred since the Miocene. This study not only provides a novel insight of the origin and dispersal routes of Acer but also exemplifies how past climatic changes affect the diversification-rates of Northern Hemisphere forest trees.
ASJC Scopus subject areas