Evidence of constant diversification punctuated by a mass extinction in the African cycads

Kowiyou Yessoufou, Samuel O. Bamigboye, Barnabas H. Daru, Michelle van der Bank

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


The recent evidence that extant cycads are not living fossils triggered a renewed search for a better understanding of their evolutionary history. In this study, we investigated the evolutionary diversification history of the genus Encephalartos, a monophyletic cycad endemic to Africa. We found an antisigmoidal pattern with a plateau and punctual explosive radiation. This pattern is typical of a constant radiation with mass extinction. The rate shift that we found may therefore be a result of a rapid recolonization of niches that have been emptied owing to mass extinction. Because the explosive radiation occurred during the transition Pliocene-Pleistocene, we argued that the processes might have been climatically mediated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)50-58
Number of pages9
JournalEcology and Evolution
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2014


  • Adaptive radiation
  • Climate change
  • Encephalartos
  • Extinction
  • Gymnosperms
  • Subtropical Africa

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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