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Morphological, ecological and genetic aspects associated with endemism in the Fly Orchid group.
The European genus Ophrys (Orchidaceae) is famous for its insect-like floral morphology, an adaptation for a pseudocopulatory pollination strategy involving Hymenoptera males. A large number of endemic Ophrys species have recently been described, especially within the Mediterranean Basin, which is one of the major species diversity hotspots. Subtle morphological variation and specific pollinator dependence are the two main perceptible criteria for describing numerous endemic taxa. However, the degree to which endemics differ genetically remains a challenging question. Additionally, knowledge regarding the factors underlying the emergence of such endemic entities is limited. To achieve new insights regarding speciation processes in Ophrys, we have investigated species boundaries in the Fly Orchid group (Ophrys insectifera sensu lato) by examining morphological, ecological and genetic evidence. Classically, authors have recognized one widespread taxon (O. insectifera) and two endemics (O. aymoninii from France and O. subinsectifera from Spain). Our research has identified clear morphological and ecological factors segregating among these taxa; however, genetic differences were more ambiguous. Insights from cpDNA sequencing and amplified fragment length polymorphisms genotyping indicated a recent diversification in the three extant Fly Orchid species, which may have been further obscured by active migration and admixture across the European continent. Our genetic results still indicate weak but noticeable phylogeographic clustering that partially correlates with the described species. Particularly, we report several isolated haplotypes and genetic clusters in central and southeastern Europe. With regard to the morphological, ecological and genetic aspects, we discuss the endemism status within the Fly Orchid group from evolutionary, taxonomical and conservation perspectives.
amplified fragment length polymorphisms, ecological differentiation, endemism, Ophrys insectifera, spatial genetic structure, speciation
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