History and evolution of the arctic flora: in the footsteps of Eric Hultén

Richard John Abbott, C Brochmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

404 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

A major contribution to our initial understanding of the origin, history and biogeography of the present-day arctic flora was made by Eric Hulten in his landmark book Outline of the History of Arctic and Boreal Biota during the Quarternary Period, published in 1937. Here we review recent molecular and fossil evidence that has tested some of Hulten's proposals. There is now excellent fossil, molecular and phytogeographical evidence to support Hulten's proposal that Beringia was a major northern refugium for arctic plants throughout the Quaternary. In contrast, most molecular evidence fails to support his proposal that contemporary east and west Atlantic populations of circumarctic and amphi-Atlantic species have been separated throughout the Quaternary. In fact, populations of these species from opposite sides of the Atlantic are normally genetically very similar, thus the North Atlantic does not appear to have been a strong barrier to their dispersal during the Quaternary. Hulten made no detailed proposals on mechanisms of speciation in the Arctic; however, molecular studies have confirmed that many arctic plants are allopolyploid, and some of them most probably originated during the Holocene. Recurrent formation of polyploids from differentiated diploid or more low-ploid populations provides one explanation for the intriguing taxonomic complexity of the arctic flora, also noted by Hulten. In addition, population fragmentation during glacial periods may have lead to the formation of new sibling species at the diploid level. Despite the progress made since Hulten wrote his book, there remain large gaps in our knowledge of the history of the arctic flora, especially about the origins of the founding stocks of this flora which first appeared in the Arctic at the end of the Pliocene (approximately 3 Ma). Comprehensive analyses of the molecular phylogeography of arctic taxa and their relatives together with detailed fossil studies are required to fill these gaps.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)299-313
Number of pages15
JournalMolecular Ecology
Volume12
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2003

Keywords

  • arctic flora
  • biogeography
  • glacial refugia
  • speciation
  • phylogeography
  • Quaternary
  • MITOCHONDRIAL-DNA VARIATION
  • LAST GLACIAL MAXIMUM
  • ENDEMIC S-SVALBARDENSIS
  • ASEXUAL SPECIES COMPLEX
  • BERING LAND-BRIDGE
  • C-14 YR BP
  • DRABA BRASSICACEAE
  • NORTH-AMERICA
  • SAXIFRAGA-OPPOSITIFOLIA
  • CERASTIUM-ALPINUM

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'History and evolution of the arctic flora: in the footsteps of Eric Hultén'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this