Climate and evolutionary history define the phylogenetic diversity of vegetation types in the central region of South America
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In South America the biogeographic history has produced different biomes with different vegetation types and distinct floras. As these vegetation types may diverge in evolutionary histories, we analysed how alpha and beta phylogenetic diversity vary across them and determine the main drivers of variation in phylogenetic diversity. To this end, we compiled a list of 205 sites and 1222 tree species spread over four biomes and eight vegetation types in central South America. For each site we evaluated six measures of evolutionary alpha diversity (species richness, phylogenetic diversity sensu stricto and the standardized effect size of phylogenetic diversity, mean phylogenetic distance and mean nearest taxon distance) and beta diversity (phylogenetic Sorensen’s similarity). We checked the influence of spatial and environmental variables using generalized least squares models. The greatest phylogenetic differentiation was found between west and east of central South America, mainly between the Chaco communities and the other vegetation types, suggesting that species found in this biome come from different lineages, comparing with the others vegetation types. Our results also showed a clustered phylogenetic structure for the Dry Chaco woodlands, which may be associated with harsh environmental conditions. In addition to historical process, climatic conditions are the main drivers shaping phylogenetic patterns among the distinct vegetation types. Understanding patterns of phylogenetic diversity and distribution can greatly improve conservation planning and management since it allows the conservation of unique biome characteristics.
KeywordsConservation assessment Neotroptree Lineage diversity Longitudinal gradient Species richness
V. L. R. and V. P. thank the Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior-Brazil (CAPES) for the Postdoctoral scholarship. E. v. d. B had the support of the Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq).
Author contribution statement
V.L.R., V.P. and M.L.B designed the paper; V.L.R. and A.O.F. assembled the database; V.L.R. and V.P. analysed the data; V.L.R., V.P., M.L.B and E.v.d.B. led the writing. All authors read and approved the final work.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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