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Phylogenetic beta diversity reveals historical effects in the assemblage of the tree floras of the Ryukyu Archipelago

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Quantifying the roles of historical versus contemporary constraints in determining species diversity is a central issue in island biogeography, and the phylogenetic beta diversity between islands is an essential measure specifying the influence of historical barriers on insular assemblages. In this study, using phylogenetic information for 513 tree species on 26 islands in the subtropical Ryukyu Archipelago, phylogenetic beta diversity between islands was calculated, and effects of historical factors (gaps as surrogate measures of historical barriers) and current ones (distance, area and elevation) on the phylogenetic structure of tree assemblages were examined. The pattern of phylogenetic beta diversity demonstrated that the Tokara Gap and geographical distance were consistently important for characterizing tree assemblages in the Ryukyus relative to other historical and current factors, which suggests that the Tokara Gap and distance-limited dispersal from the two adjacent source islands have left a deep imprint on the phylogenetic structure of the current tree flora of the islands.

Keywords: Area; UniFrac; colonization window; community phylogenetics; continental islands; deep-sea barriers; elevation; gap; island biogeography; isolation

Document Type: Correspondence


Affiliations: 1: Faculty of Science, University of the Ryukyus, Nishihara, Okinawa, Japan 2: Institute of Low Temperature Science, Hokkaido University, Kita, Sapporo, Japan 3: Faculty of Science, Chiba University, Inage, Chiba, Japan, Email:

Publication date: May 1, 2011


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