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Biogeosciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-2020-186
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-2020-186
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 29 Jun 2020

Submitted as: research article | 29 Jun 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal BG.

Seed traits and phylogeny explain plant distribution at large geographic scale

Kai Chen1,2,5,6, Kevin S. Burgess3, Fangliang He4, Xiang-Yun Yang1, Lian-Ming Gao2, and De-Zhu Li1,2,5 Kai Chen et al.
  • 1Germplasm Bank of Wild Species in Southwest China, Kunming Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming, Yunnan 650201, China
  • 2CAS Key Laboratory for Plant Diversity and Biogeography of East Asia, Kunming Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming, Yunnan 650201, China
  • 3Department of Biology, College of Letters and Sciences, Columbus State University, University System of Georgia, Columbus, GA 31907-5645, USA
  • 4Department of Renewable Resources, University of Alberta, Alberta, Canada
  • 5Kunming College of Life Science, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming, Yunnan 650201, China
  • 6Key Laboratory of Insect Resources Conservation and Utilization in Western Yunnan, Baoshan University, Baoshan, Yunnan 678000, China

Abstract. Understanding the mechanisms that shape the geographic distribution of plant species is a central theme of biogeography. Although seed mass, seed dispersal mode and phylogeny have long been suspected to affect species distribution, the link between the sources of variation of these attributes and their joint effects to the distribution of seed plants remain poorly documented. This study aims to quantify the joint effects of key seed traits and phylogeny on the species' distribution. We collected seed mass and seed dispersal mode from 1,616 species of seed plants representing 554 genera of 130 families. We used 5,639,009 specimens to calculate species range size through ArcGIS10.2. Phylogenetic generalized least squares regression modeling and variation partitioning were performed to estimate the joint effects of seed mass, seed dispersal mode and phylogeny on species distribution. We found that species range size was constrained by seed dispersal mode and phylogeny. Seed mass and its intraspecific variation were also important in limiting species distribution, but their effects were different among species with different dispersal modes. Variation partitioning revealed that seed mass, seed mass variability, seed dispersal mode and phylogeny together explained 40.44 % of the variance in species range size. Seed traits are not typically used to model the geographic distributions of seed plants. This study provides direct evidence that seed mass, seed dispersal modes and phylogeny explain species distribution variation on a large geographic scale. Our findings underscore the necessity to include seed traits and the phylogenetic history of species, together with existing climate-based niche models, in predicting the response of plant geographic distribution to climate change.

Kai Chen et al.

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Kai Chen et al.

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Short summary
Understanding the mechanisms that shape the geographic distribution of plant species is a central theme of biogeography. In the study, we quantify the joint effects of key seed traits and phylogeny on species' distribution across 1,616 species of seed plants on the basis of a ten-year seed conservation initiative in China. Our findings show that, seed mass, seed mass variability, seed dispersal mode and phylogeny, together explained 40.44 % of the variance in species range size.
Understanding the mechanisms that shape the geographic distribution of plant species is a...
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