The effects of Quaternary climatic oscillations on the demography of organisms vary across regions and continents. In taxa distributed in Europe and North America, several paradigms regarding the distribution of refugia have been identified. By contrast, less is known about the processes that shaped the species' spatial genetic structure in areas such as the Himalayas, which is considered a biodiversity hotspot. Here, we investigated the phylogeographic structure and population dynamics of Primula tibetica by combining genomic phylogeography and species distribution models (SDMs). Genomic data were obtained for 293 samples of P. tibetica using restriction site-associated DNA sequencing (RADseq). Ensemble SDMs were carried out to predict potential present and past distribution ranges. Four distinct lineages were identified. Approximate Bayesian computation analyses showed that each of them have experienced both expansions and bottlenecks since their divergence, which occurred during or across the Quaternary glacial cycles. The two lineages at both edges of the distribution were found to be more vulnerable and responded in different ways to past climatic changes. These results illustrate how past climatic changes affected the demographic history of Himalayan organisms. Our findings highlight the significance of combining genomic approaches with environmental data when evaluating the effects of past climatic changes.
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