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Comparative phylogeography offers a unique opportunity to understand the interplay between past environmental events and life-history traits on diversification of unrelated but co-distributed species. Here, we examined the effects of the quaternary climate fluctuations and palaeomarine currents and present-day marine currents on the extant patterns of genetic diversity in the two most conspicuous mangrove species of the Neotropics. The black (Avicennia germinans, Avicenniaceae) and the red (Rhizophora mangle, Rhizophoraceae) mangroves have similar geographic ranges but are very distantly related and show striking differences on their life-history traits. We sampled 18 Atlantic and 26 Pacific locations for A.germinans (N=292) and R.mangle (N=422). We performed coalescence simulations using microsatellite diversity to test for evidence of population change associated with quaternary climate fluctuations. In addition, we examined whether patterns of genetic variation were consistent with the directions of major marine (historical and present day) currents in the region. Our demographic analysis was grounded within a phylogeographic framework provided by the sequence analysis of two chloroplasts and one flanking microsatellite region in a subsample of individuals. The two mangrove species shared similar biogeographic histories including: (1) strong genetic breaks between Atlantic and Pacific ocean basins associated with the final closure of the Central American Isthmus (CAI), (2) evidence for simultaneous population declines between the mid-Pleistocene and early Holocene, (3) asymmetric historical migration with higher gene flow from the Atlantic to the Pacific oceans following the direction of the palaeomarine current, and (4) contemporary gene flow between West Africa and South America following the major Atlantic Ocean currents. Despite the remarkable differences in life-history traits of mangrove species, which should have had a strong influence on seed dispersal capability and, thus, population connectivity, we found that vicariant events, climate fluctuations and marine currents have shaped the distribution of genetic diversity in strikingly similar ways.


© 2015 The Authors. Ecology and Evolution published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.