University of Oulu

de la Estrella, M, Cervantes, S, Janssens, SB, Forest, F, Hardy, OJ, Ojeda, DI. The impact of rainforest area reduction in the Guineo‐Congolian region on the tempo of diversification and habitat shifts in the Berlinia clade (Leguminosae). J Biogeogr. 2020; 47: 2728– 2740.

The impact of rainforest area reduction in the Guineo‐Congolian region on the tempo of diversification and habitat shifts in the Berlinia clade (Leguminosae)

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Author: de la Estrella, Manuel1,2; Cervantes, Sandra3; Janssens, Steven B.4;
Organizations: 1Departamento de Botánica, Ecología y Fisiología Vegetal, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de Córdoba, Córdoba, Spain
2Jodrell Laboratory, Royal Botanic Gardens, Richmond, UK
3Department of Ecology and Genetics, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
4Meise Botanic Garden, Meise, Belgium
5Evolutionary Biology and Ecology Unit, Faculté des Sciences, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Brussels, Belgium
6Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research, Ås, Norway
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.5 MB)
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Language: English
Published: John Wiley & Sons, 2020
Publish Date: 2021-01-19


Aim: The Guineo‐Congolian region in Africa constitutes the second largest area of tropical rainforest (TRF) in the world. It covered an estimated 15–22 million km² during the late Miocene (55–11 Ma) and it has experienced since a declining trend, currently reaching 3.4 million km², associated with increasing aridification and the replacement of TRF by savanna habitats. Here, we examine whether rainforest area contraction led to a decrease in net diversification rates linked to increasing extinction, or if it is associated with increasing opportunities for allopatric or ecological speciation during periods of forest fragmentation.

Location: Tropical Africa, Guineo‐Congolian region.

Taxon: Anthonotha, Englerodendron, Berlinia clade (Leguminosae).

Methods: We used a target enrichment approach combined with a complete data set representing all genera within the Berlinia clade. We combined phylogenomic, dating estimates, habitat reconstruction and diversification rate analyses to infer the effect of change in rainforest area coverage at two taxonomic levels: among genera, and within Anthonotha and Englerodendron.

Results: We recovered fully resolved and well‐supported relationships among all genera and among species within the two genera. Most genera (87.5%) diverged before the Pleistocene, but Anthonotha and Englerodendron diversified recently, during the most recent cycles of forest contraction and expansion of the Pleistocene.

Main conclusions: Our results suggest that the Berlinia clade displays an overall trend of accumulation of species over evolutionary time, suggesting the reduction in TRF area has not decreased net diversification rates. Most habitat shifts to savanna occurred in the Miocene, with no major habitat shifts during the most recent phases of forest expansion–contraction in the Pleistocene. Shifts in habitat from lowland forest to savanna did not trigger diversification rates, but habitat fragmentation might have increased diversification rates through allopatric speciation.

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Series: Journal of biogeography
ISSN: 0305-0270
ISSN-E: 1365-2699
ISSN-L: 0305-0270
Volume: 47
Issue: 12
Pages: 2728 - 2740
DOI: 10.1111/jbi.13971
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
Funding: M.E. was funded by the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska‐Curie grant agreement No 659152 (GLDAFRICA). This work was supported by the above‐mentioned GLDAFRICA and the Fonds de la Recherche Scientifique‐FNRS (F.R.S.‐FNRS) under grants no. T.0163.13 and J.0292.17F, by the Belgian Federal Science Policy Office (BELSPO) through project AFRIFORD from the BRAIN program, and from NIBIO (ForGeBiM, no. 51471).
Copyright information: © 2020 The Authors. Journal of Biogeography published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution‐NonCommercial License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited and is not used for commercial purposes.