Niche conservatism of Eulophia alta, a trans-Atlantic orchid species

Marta Kolanowska, Dariusz L. Szlachetko


The genus Eulophia embraces over 230 species distributed through the tropical and subtropical Africa, Asia, Australia and the Americas. In Neotropics it is represented by a sole species – E. alta. The aim of the presented study was to evaluate the difference between ecological niches occupied by American and African populations of this species based on the ecological niche modeling. The similarity between the glacial and present niches occupied by E. alta was calculated and the factors limiting the species occurrence were identified. Areas of seasonal tropical forest, tropical savanna and woodland served as refugia for the studied species during last glacial maximum and they were more widespread in Neotropics than in Africa. No significant niche shift after last glacial maximum was observed. The distribution of E. alta in its whole range is restricted mainly by temperature seasonality. The differences in the niches occupied by African and Neotropical populations of E. alta suggest preglacial disjunction of the species range and independent adaptation of both groups. Despite the significant range disjunction of E. alta the species is characterized by relatively high degree of niche conservatism.


ecological niche modeling; last glacial maximum; Orchidaceae; trans-Atlantic disjunction

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