Colloquium paper: A phylogenetic perspective on the distribution of plant diversity

TitleColloquium paper: A phylogenetic perspective on the distribution of plant diversity
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2008
AuthorsDonoghue MJ
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume105 Suppl 1
Date Published2008 Aug 12
KeywordsAdaptation, Biological Evolution, Climate, GEOGRAPHY, phylogeny, Physiological, Plants, Species Specificity

Phylogenetic studies are revealing that major ecological niches are more conserved through evolutionary history than expected, implying that adaptations to major climate changes have not readily been accomplished in all lineages. Phylogenetic niche conservatism has important consequences for the assembly of both local communities and the regional species pools from which these are drawn. If corridors for movement are available, newly emerging environments will tend to be filled by species that filter in from areas in which the relevant adaptations have already evolved, as opposed to being filled by in situ evolution of these adaptations. Examples include intercontinental disjunctions of tropical plants, the spread of plant lineages around the Northern Hemisphere after the evolution of cold tolerance, and the radiation of northern alpine plants into the Andes. These observations highlight the role of phylogenetic knowledge and historical biogeography in explanations of global biodiversity patterns. They also have implications for the future of biodiversity.