Decades-long phylogeographic issues: complex historical processes and ecological factors on genetic structure of alpine plants in the Japanese Archipelago

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Abstract

Mountain regions are important places for biodiversity, where organisms could persist throughout prolonged periods and accumulate genetic divergence as well as promote speciation. Roles of mountains for biodiversity have been exclusively discussed in regions that have specifically diverse species or covered with ice-sheets during the Pleistocene glacial periods, whereas the importance of mountainous regions in East Asia has been less disputed. High mountains in the Japanese Archipelago, located at the eastern edge of the Eurasia continent, have one of southernmost populations of alpine and arctic-alpine plants that are also distributed in the northern Pacific and/or the circumarctic regions. Phylogeographic studies on the Japanese alpine plants have excluded their possible ephemeral occurrence during the current warm period, and rather, suggest persistence of alpine plants throughout several cycles of climate changes in the Pleistocene on high mountains in central Honshu, the main island of the Japanese Archipelago. In this review, I look through decade long phylogeographic studies and show complicated patterns of range dynamics of Japanese alpine plants. In addition, I note recent findings of genetic relationships of Japanese populations of alpine and/or arctic-alpine plants with those in northern regions and their possible ecological divergence in the Japanese Archipelago. Taken together, I provide several issues for understanding historical processes that established distribution of alpine plants following climate changes as well as their diversification and propose importance of Japanese populations of alpine plants on biodiversity in alpine communities across broader range, especially in the northern Pacific region.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)191-201
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Plant Research
Volume135
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022

Keywords

  • Alpine plants
  • Dispersal
  • East Asia
  • Genetic divergence
  • Phylogeography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Plant Science

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