Persistent history of the bird-dispersed arctic–alpine plant Vaccinium vitis-idaea L. (Ericaceae) in Japan

Hajime Ikeda, Yusuke Yoneta, Hiroyuki Higashi, Pernille Bronken Eidesen, Viachenslav Barkalov, Valentin Yakubov, Christian Brochmann, Hiroaki Setoguchi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Arctic–alpine plants have expanded and contracted their ranges in response to the Pleistocene climate oscillations. Today, many arctic–alpine plants have vast distributions in the circumarctic region as well as marginal, isolated occurrences in high mountains at lower latitudes. These marginal populations may represent relict, long-standing populations that have persisted for several cycles of cold and warm climate during the Pleistocene, or recent occurrences that either result from southward step-wise migration during the last glacial period or from recent long-distance dispersal. In light of these hypotheses, we investigated the biogeographic history of the marginal Japanese populations of the widespread arctic–alpine plant Vaccinium vitis-idaea (Ericaceae), which is bird-dispersed, potentially over long distances. We sequenced three nuclear loci and one plastid DNA region in 130 individuals from 65 localities covering its entire geographic range, with a focus on its marginal populations in Japan. We found a homogenous genetic pattern across its enormous range based on the loci analysed, in contrast to the geographically structured variation found in a previous study of amplified fragment length polymorphisms in this species. However, we found several unique haplotypes in the Japanese populations, excluding the possibility that these marginal populations result from recent southward migration. Thus, even though V. vitis-idaea is efficiently dispersed via berries, our study suggests that its isolated populations in Japan have persisted during several cycles of cold and warm climate during the Pleistocene.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)437-444
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Plant Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 1 2015


  • Biogeography
  • Disjunct distribution
  • Long-distance dispersal
  • Pleistocene
  • Range margin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Plant Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Persistent history of the bird-dispersed arctic–alpine plant Vaccinium vitis-idaea L. (Ericaceae) in Japan'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this