Cheddadi R, Birks HJB, Tarroso P , Liepelt S, Gömöry D, Dullinger S, Meier ES, Hülber K, Maiorano L, Laborde H


At northern temperate latitudes trees have adjusted their ranges substantially in response to changing climates during the Holocene. Results from dispersal model simulations suggest that postglacial migration rates may have been over-estimated from fossil pollen data. As a contribution to this debate, we infer the migration rates of Abies alba (Mill.), silver fir, as a case-study species, by using a spatially explicit approach based on fossil pollen but taking into account its modern genetic diversity pattern. Maximum estimates of migration rates from fossil pollen data alone are higher than 700 m yr−1 during the Holocene. Considering the potential refugia as suggested from all the fossil data but restricting the area over which silver fir expanded from each glacial refugium using data on the current haplotype distribution, the estimated maximum migration rates of silver fir are less than 250 m yr−1. Genetic information may allow for (1) the exclusion of those refugial areas where the species may have survived during the last glacial period but from which it did not spread or spread only very locally and (2) the delineation of the areas over which the species spread from each glacial refugium. The estimated rates in the present study are generally consistent with rates suggested from modelling approaches. This study shows that integrating fossil pollen records can improve simulations of dispersal processes and, thus, allow for better predictions of future changes in tree species’ ranges.


Journal: Vegetation History and Archaeobotany

DOI: 10.1007/s00334-013-0404-4