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Species pools along contemporary environmental gradients represent different levels of diversification

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Abstract Aim 

Within a region, different habitat types are characterized by different species and some habitat types have higher species diversities than others. Different habitat types are also characterized by different phylogenetic clades. However, it is not known whether – within a given region – some habitat types have species pools that are more phylogenetically diversified than others. We investigated whether species pools in contemporary habitat types represent different levels of diversification of angiosperms and, if so, whether these differences correlate with particular environmental factors. We tested these relationships in a region of recent geological origin possessing a comparatively young flora, and compared the result with standard analyses of species diversity. Location 

The Netherlands. Methods 

We studied angiosperms across the full range of habitat types present in the Netherlands. We characterized levels of diversification represented in species pools within each of these habitat types with respect to (1) taxonomic diversification, i.e. the rate of increase of richness across taxonomic ranks (relative to a null expectation for a given species richness), and (2) cladogenic diversification, i.e. the average cladogenic distance of species from the root of a phylogenetic tree of the species pool within a given region. Results 

Species pools of different habitat types represented different levels of taxonomic and cladogenic diversification. These differences were strongly correlated with the environmental characteristics of the habitat type. Greater levels of taxonomic diversification were represented in the species pools of relatively dry and open habitat types. Greater levels of cladogenic diversification were represented in habitats with both dry and weakly acidic soils. The relationship between environmental factors and taxonomic and cladogenic diversification (r2 = 0.88 and 0.76, respectively) was stronger than that between environmental factors and species richness (r2 = 0.34). Main conclusions 

Within a region, species resulting from particularly high rates of diversification accumulated in particular habitat types. These habitat types represent specific contemporary abiotic environments and have a tighter relationship with levels of diversification than with species richness.

Keywords: Angiosperms; The Netherlands; environmental factors; evolutionary ecology; grazing; macroevolution; palaeoecology; phylogeny; plant communities

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Alterra, Centre for Ecosystem Studies, WUR, PO Box 47, 6700AA Wageningen, The Netherlands 2: University of Rennes 1, CNRS, Unit ‘Ecobio’, Campus Beaulieu, Bâtiment 14A, 35042 Rennes, France

Publication date: December 1, 2010

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