The geographical pattern of speciation and the relationship between floral variation and species ranges were investigated in the tribe Sinningieae (Gesneriaceae), which is found mainly in the Atlantic forests of Brazil. Geographical distribution data recorded on a grid system of 0.5 × 0.5 degree intervals and a near-complete species-level phylogenetic tree of Sinningieae inferred from a simultaneous analysis of seven DNA regions were used to address the role of geographical isolation in speciation. Geographical range overlaps between sister lineages were measured across all nodes in the phylogenetic tree and analyzed in relation to relative ages estimated from branch lengths. Although there are several cases of species sympatry in Sinningieae, patterns of sympatry between sister taxa support the predominance of allopatric speciation. The pattern of sympatry between sister taxa is consistent with range shifts following allopatric speciation, except in one clade, in which the overlapping distribution of recent sister species indicates speciation within a restricted geographical area and involving changes in pollinators and habitats. The relationship between floral divergence and regional sympatry was also examined by analyzing floral contrasts, phenological overlap, and the degree of sympatry between sister clades. Morphological contrast between flowers is not increased in sympatry and phenological divergence is more apparent between allopatric clades than between sympatric clades. Therefore, our results failed to indicate a tendency for sympatric taxa to minimize morphological and phenological overlap (geographic exclusion and/or character displacement hypotheses). Instead, they point toward adaptation in phenology to local conditions and buildup of sympatries at random with respect to flower morphology. Additional studies at a lower geographical scale are needed to identify truely coexisting species and the components of their reproductive isolation.
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