Abstract

The older history of hybrid zones is explored through consideration of recent advances in climatology, paleontology and phylogeography in the Late Cenozoic, particularly the Quaternary Period with its major climatic cycles. The fossil record shows that these ice ages and their nested millennial oscillations caused substantial changes in species distributions and with genetic evidence allows deduction of refugia and colonization routes in arctic, temperate, desert and tropical regions. The age of divergence between hybridizing lineages varies from the Late Pleistocene to the Late Miocene, implying much range change and varying selection on sister lineages. Hybridizing lineages in the Tropical and Temperate regions range in age from young to old, but those studied in the Arctic are no more than a few ice ages old and their refugial roots are not clear. Mid to low latitude regions often show parapatric patchworks of lineages and multiple refugia stable through many climatic oscillations. Particular hybrid zones may have formed more than once; while some expansions were not the same, producing reticulation and introgression in previous glacial cycles. Hybrid-zone roots are complex and deep, and considerations of their complexity can reveal evolutionary pathways of species. They are indeed windows on evolution.

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DOI:
10.1007/s10709-011-9547-3
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BibTeX key:
hewitt2011quaternary
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