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https://doi.org/10.5194/bgd-11-7055-2014
© Author(s) 2014. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/bgd-11-7055-2014
© Author(s) 2014. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 19 May 2014

Submitted as: research article | 19 May 2014

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This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of the manuscript for further review has not been submitted.

Phylogenetic support for the Tropical Niche Conservatism Hypothesis despite the absence of a clear latitudinal species richness gradient in Yunnan's woody flora

G. Tang1, M. G. Zhang2, C. Liu3, Z. Zhou4,1, W. Chen4, and J. W. F. Slik5 G. Tang et al.
  • 1Center for Integrative Conservation, Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Menglun, Yunnan, China
  • 2State Key Laboratory of Vegetation and Environmental Change, Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
  • 3Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research, Department of Environment and Primary Industries, Heidelberg, Victoria 3084, Australia
  • 4Key Laboratory of Biogeography and Biodiversity, Kunming Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming, Yunnan, China
  • 5Faculty of Science, Universiti Brunei Darussalam, Gadong, BE1410, Brunei Darussalam

Abstract. The Tropical Niche Conservatism Hypothesis (TCH) tries to explain the generally observed latitudinal gradient of increasing species diversity towards the tropics. To date, few studies have used phylogenetic approaches to assess its validity, even though such methods are especially suited to detect changes in niche structure. We test the TCH using modeled distributions of 1898 woody species in Yunnan Province (southwest China) in combination with a family level phylogeny. Unlike predicted, species richness and phylogenetic diversity did not show a latitudinal gradient, but identified two high diversity zones, one in Northwest and one in South Yunnan. Despite this, the underlying residual phylogenetic diversity showed a clear decline away from the tropics, while the species composition became progressingly more phylogenetically clustered towards the North. These latitudinal changes were strongly associated with more extreme temperature variability and declining precipitation and soil water availability, especially during the dry season. Our results suggests that the climatically more extreme conditions outside the tropics require adaptations for successful colonization, most likely related to the plant hydraulic system, that have been acquired by only a limited number of phylogenetically closely related plant lineages. We emphasize the importance of phylogenetic approaches for testing the TCH.

G. Tang et al.
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G. Tang et al.
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