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Phylogenetic biome conservatism on a global scale


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Crisp, MD and Arroyo, MTK and Cook, LG and Gandolfo, MA and Jordan, GJ and McGlone, MS and Weston, PH and Westoby, M and Wilf, P and Linder, HP (2009) Phylogenetic biome conservatism on a global scale. Nature, 458 (7239). pp. 754-756. ISSN 0028-0836

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How and why organisms are distributed as they are has long
intrigued evolutionary biologists1–4. The tendency for species to
retain their ancestral ecology has been demonstrated in distributions
on local and regional scales5–7, but the extent of ecological
conservatism over tens of millions of years and across continents
has not been assessed8–13. Here we show that biome stasis at
speciation has outweighed biome shifts by a ratio of more than
25:1, by inferring ancestral biomes for an ecologically diverse
sample of more than 11,000 plant species from around the
Southern Hemisphere. Stasis was also prevalent in transocean
colonizations. Availability of a suitable biome could have substantially
influenced which lineages establish on more than one landmass,
in addition to the influence of the rarity of the dispersal
events themselves. Conversely, the taxonomic composition of
biomes has probably been strongly influenced by the rarity of
species’ transitions between biomes. This study has implications
for the future because if clades have inherently limited capacity to
shift biomes13, then their evolutionary potential could be strongly
compromised by biome contraction as climate changes.

Item Type: Article
Journal or Publication Title: Nature
Page Range: pp. 754-756
ISSN: 0028-0836
Identification Number - DOI: 10.1038/nature07764
Date Deposited: 16 Dec 2009 00:34
Last Modified: 18 Nov 2014 04:08
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