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Costaceae are a pantropical family, distinguished from other families within the order Zingiberales by their spiral phyllotaxy and showy labellum comprised of five fused staminodes. While the majority of Costaceae species are found in the neotropics, the pantropical distribution of the family as a whole could be due to a number of historical biogeographic scenarios, including continental-drift mediated vicariance and long-distance dispersal events. Here, the hypothesis of an ancient Gondwanan distribution followed by vicariance via continental drift as the leading cause of the current pantropical distribution of Costaceae is tested, using molecular dating of cladogenic events combined with phylogeny-based biogeographic analyses. Dispersal-Vicariance Analysis (DIVA) is used to determine ancestral distributions based upon the modem distribution of extant taxa in a phylogenetic context. Diversification ages within Costaceae are estimated using chloroplast DNA data (trnL-F and trnK) analyzed with a local clock procedure. In the absence of fossil evidence, the divergence time between Costaceae and Zingiberaceae, as estimated in an ordinal analysis of Zingiberales, is used as the calibration point for converting relative to absolute ages. The results of the temporal analysis based on extant taxa indicate that the initial diversification within Costaceae occurred approximately 65 million years ago, long after the final break up of the Gondwanan supercontinent. Considering this minimum age of diversification, potential scenarios for the current biogeographic patterns found in Costaceae are presented in a temporal and spatial context. The evolution of specialized floral forms associated with specific pollinators is also discussed within the biogeographic framework.

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© 2006 Chelsea D. Specht

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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