Systematics and biogeography of Myricaceae
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Two molecular phylogenetic studies were undertaken to examine relationships within Myricaceae. Analyses of DNA sequences of the plastid rbcL gene, trnL-Fregion and nuclear ITS region showed the family to be monophyletic. In all analyses Canacomyrica, a monotypic genus endemic to New Caledonian that bears several distinctive features such as staminodes in the female flowers, fell into a well- supported clade sister to the rest of Myricaceae. Phylogenetic analyses of ITS and trnL-F sequence data, representing all genera and subgeneric groups, were undertaken using maximum parsimony and Bayesian methods. The following relationships were strongly supported: (Canacomyrica (Comptonia (Myrica, Morella))). The clade containing all species formerly considered to comprise Myrica s.l. was split into two strongly supported clades corresponding to Myrica s.s. and Morella; this finding strengthens the argument for recognition of these as separate genera. Within Morella, two clades corresponded to previously recognized subgenera. Molecular dating analyses were performed using Penalized Likelihood. Close correlations between lineage-specific diversification and major orogenic or climatic events were inferred. This study suggests that much of the diversity in Morella arose during the Neogene and seed-dispersal by birds has been a significant factor in determining the modem distribution. A study of the conservation status of Canacomyrica was conducted using field observations and data from herbarium specimens. This species was found to occur in just eleven fragmented localities: six outside protected areas and three threatened by mining or bush fires. IUCN Red List status of Endangered was recommended. The morphology and ecology of Canacomyrica was studied to enhance knowledge of this poorly known species and provide comparative data for use in a study of the morphology of the entire family. A new classification scheme with keys was presented including, for the first time, Canacomyrica. New combinations in Morella were recommended.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy