Resolving the overall pattern of marattialean fern phylogeny

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© 2018 Botanical Society of America Premise of the Study: Recent clarification of the distribution of Marattiales through time provides the impetus for “total evidence” phylogenetic analyses of a major fern clade with a rich fossil record. These analyses serve as empirical tests for results from systematic analyses of living species and also of the belief that relationships among living species accurately reflect the overall pattern of phylogeny for clades with an extensive fossil record and a large percentage of extinction. Methods: Species of living and fossil Marattiaceae are analyzed employing a “total evidence approach” via maximum parsimony. Analyses were conducted using TNT implemented through WinClada. Key Results: Systematic analyses of living species and of living + extinct species provide roughly concordant topologies for living taxa. However, living species of Marattiales are only one component of a much larger clade with two major subclades. One consists of Psaroniaceae and extends through time to at least the Early Cretaceous. The other consists of Marattiaceae and includes all living species. Various analyses support the generic-level clades of living species from earlier analyses, but the arrangement of such clades varies from analysis to analysis. Conclusions: Marattiales is a monophyletic group that is extremely common in late Paleozoic and early Mesozoic deposits, with a stem group Psaroniaceae and a crown group Marattiaceae. Because Marattiaceae represents only a small component of overall marattialean diversity, living species alone neither account for evolutionary changes within the clade over time, nor accurately reflect the overall pattern of marattialean fern phylogeny.