Strong phylogenetic signals in global plant bioclimatic envelopes

Harris, C., Brummitt, N., Cobbold, C. A. and Reeve, R. (2022) Strong phylogenetic signals in global plant bioclimatic envelopes. Global Ecology and Biogeography, 31(11), pp. 2191-2203. (doi: 10.1111/geb.13564)

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Aim: The environmental preferences of species are an important facet of their response to changing conditions, and these have long been thought to exhibit phylogenetic conservatism. However, these bioclimatic envelopes have not previously been imputed from climate records at the date and location of occurrence, and the strength of their phylogenetic signal has not been studied at a broad scale. Here, we combine records from global climate reconstructions with contemporaneous plant occurrences for all available terrestrial plant species and test for phylogenetic niche conservatism in plant climatic traits. Location: Global. Time period: 1901–2018. Major taxa studied: Terrestrial plants. Methods: We used >100 million plant records from the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) to produce distributions of bioclimatic envelopes for >200,000 species, using a range of climate variables. We matched species observations to historical climate reconstructions from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasting (ECMWF) and compared this with WorldClim climate averages. We tested for phylogenetic signal in a supertree of plants using Pagel's λ. Finally, to investigate how well bioclimatic envelopes could be inferred for poorly known and rare species, we performed cross-validation by removing occurrence records for some common species to test how accurately their bioclimatic envelopes were estimated. Results: We found extremely strong phylogenetic signals (λ > 0.9 in some cases) for climate variables from both climate datasets, including temperature, soil temperature, solar radiation and precipitation. We were also able to impute missing bioclimatic envelopes for artificially removed species, having a correlation with observed data of .7. Main conclusions: We reconstructed plant climatic tolerances for >200,000 plant species historically recorded on GBIF using a technique that could be applied to any comparable biodiversity dataset. Although global information on most species is sparse, we explored methods for bias correction and data imputation, with positive results for both.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:CH was supported by an Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) Studentship (EP/M506539/1 ref. 1654080). CH, NB, CC and RR were supported by Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) grants NE/T004193/1 and NE/T010355/1.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Brummitt, Dr Neil and Cobbold, Professor Christina and Reeve, Professor Richard and Harris, Claire
Authors: Harris, C., Brummitt, N., Cobbold, C. A., and Reeve, R.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Biodiversity, One Health & Veterinary Medicine
College of Science and Engineering > School of Mathematics and Statistics > Mathematics
Journal Name:Global Ecology and Biogeography
ISSN (Online):1466-8238
Published Online:20 July 2022
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2022 The Authors
First Published:First published in Global Ecology and Biogeography 31(11): 2191-2203
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons Licence

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
190790EPSRC DTG 2014Mary Beth KneafseyEngineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)EP/M506539/1Research and Innovation Services
307517Landscape Decisions: Towards a new framework for using land assets programmeRichard ReeveNatural Environment Research Council (NERC)NE/T004193/1M&S - Mathematics
309089Simulating UK plant biodiversity under climate change to aid landscape decision makingRichard ReeveNatural Environment Research Council (NERC)NE/T010355/1M&S - Mathematics