Spatial evolutionary and ecological vicariance analysis (SEEVA), a novel approach to biogeography and speciation research, with an example from Brazilian Gentianaceae

Lena Struwe, Peter E. Smouse, Einar Heiberg, Scott Haag, Richard G. Lathrop

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aim Spatial evolutionary and ecological vicariance analysis (SEEVA) is a simple analytical method that evaluates environmental or ecological divergence associated with evolutionary splits. It integrates evolutionary hypotheses, phylogenetic data, and spatial, temporal, environmental and geographical information to elucidate patterns. Using a phylogeny of Prepusa Mart. and Senaea Taub. (Angiospermae: Gentianaceae), SEEVA is used to describe the radiation and ecological patterns of this basal gentian group across south-eastern Brazil. Location Latin America, global. Methods Environmental data for 151 geolocated botanical collections, associated with specimens from seven species, were compiled with ARCGIS, and were matched with geolocated base layers of eight climatological variables, as well as one each of geological, soil type, elevational and vegetation variables. Sister groups were defined on the basis of the six nested nodes that defined the phylogenetic tree of these two genera. A (0, 1)-scaled divergence index (D) was defined and tested for each of 12 environmental and for each of the six phylogenetic nodes, by means of contingency analyses. We contrast divergence indices of nested clades, allopatric and sympatric sister clades. Results The level of ecological divergence between sister clades/species, defined in terms of D measures, was substantial for five of six nodes, with 21 of 72 environmental comparisons having D > 0.75. Soil types and geological age of bedrock were strongly divergent only for basal nodes in the phylogeny, by contrast with temperature and precipitation, which exhibited strong divergence at all nodes. There has been strong divergence and progressive occupation of wetter and colder habitats throughout the history of Prepusa. Nodes separating allopatric sister clades exhibited larger niche divergence than did those separating sympatric sister clades. Main conclusions SEEVA provides a multi-source, direct analysis method for correlating field collections, phylogenetic hypotheses, species distributions and georeferenced environmental data. Using SEEVA, it was possible to quantify and test the divergence between sister lineages, illustrating both niche conservatism and ecological specialization. SEEVA permits elucidation of historical and ecological vicariance for evolutionary lineages, and is amenable to wide application, taxonomically, geographically and ecologically.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1841-1854
JournalJournal of Biogeography
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2011

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Cardiac and Cardiovascular Systems
  • Respiratory Medicine and Allergy

Free keywords

  • Angiosperms
  • ecological vicariance
  • Gentianaceae
  • GIS
  • historical
  • biogeography
  • niche conservatism
  • phylogeography
  • Prepusa
  • Senaea
  • sympatric speciation


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