Identifying tertiary radiations of fabaceae in the greater antilles: Alternatives to cladistic vicariance analysis

M. Lavin, M. F. Wojciechowski, A. Richman, J. Rotella, M. J. Sanderson, A. B. Matos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


The fossil record shows that the legume family was abundant and taxonomically diverse in Early Tertiary tropical deciduous forests of North America. Today, woody members of this family are almost nonexistent in temperate deciduous forests. This former North American legume diversity now lies in the Tropics, including the Greater Antilles. To show the Antillean refugia, we detail a phylogenetic and biogeographic analysis of two legume groups, the Ormocarpum and Robinia clades, which have either a Tertiary fossil record in North America or a sister clade with such a fossil record. A combined analysis of molecular and nonmolecular data is used for the cladistic vicariance approaches, while an exhaustively sampled data set of nrDNA ITS/5.8S sequences is used for the molecular biogeographic analysis. Results from component, three-area-statements, and Brooks parsimony analysis are equivocal in suggesting an influence of Tertiary history on the distribution of the woody genera Pictetia (Ormocarpum clade) and Poitea (Robinia clade), two of the most speciose endemic legume radiations in the Greater Antilles. Alternatively, nucleotide diversity, evolutionary rates, and coalescent analyses of molecular phylogenies all suggest a Tertiary diversification of Pictetia and Poitea. The results are corroborated by a regression analysis that implicates both age of island biota and island area in accurately predicting numbers of endemic legume taxa. These findings, combined with the legume fossil record, suggest that both Pictetia and Poitea stem from Tertiary North American boreotropical groups. J. A. Wolfe's hypothesis that the Greater Antilles harbor boreotropical relicts is supported.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S53-S76
JournalInternational Journal of Plant Sciences
Issue number6 SUPPL.
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Cladistic vicariance analysis
  • Coalescent theory
  • Fabaceae
  • Island biogeography
  • Molecular biogeography
  • Penalized likelihood

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Plant Science


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