J Syst Evol ›› 2018, Vol. 56 ›› Issue (5): 498-522.

• Research Articles •

### Fern and lycophyte diversity in the Pacific Northwest: Patterns and predictors

Melanie A. Link-Pérez1* and Shawn W. Laffan2

1. 1Department of Botany and Plant Pathology, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA
2School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales 2052, Australia
• Received:2017-12-01 Accepted:2018-05-17 Published:2018-09-27

Abstract: Recent floristic efforts in the Pacific Northwest (PNW) have now made it possible to characterize the broad‐scale patterns of fern and lycophyte diversity across this large and geologically‐complex region of western North America. The physiography of the PNW has been developing for over 200 million years, but Pleistocene glaciation‐induced migrations and recolonizations have strongly influenced the assembly of the flora. With the high dispersal potential of fern and lycophyte spores, the distribution patterns of pteridophytes may be representative of habitat suitability more than dispersal constraints. Our objective was to describe the biodiversity of pteridophytes in the PNW, determine the spatial distribution of that biodiversity in terms of phylogenetic diversity, identify centers of regional endemism, explore the correlations between biodiversity and environmental variables, and infer possible influences of past glaciation on the pteridophyte flora. We obtained presence‐only distribution data from two online databases. A phylogenetic tree was constructed using chloroplast DNA sequence data from GenBank. We used the Biodiverse software package to estimate and map phylogenetic diversity and phylogenetic endemism across the PNW, and to identify those regions of the PNW where diversity was higher or lower than expected in comparison to randomization models. Environmental correlates of diversity were identified using principal components analysis with bioclimatic data from WorldClim.org, and we used Maxent to predict habitat suitability for species under past and future climate conditions. We found evidence for the influence of past glaciations and glacial refugia on the patterns of pteridophyte diversity, that moisture availability and cold temperatures are strongly correlated with patterns of genus richness, phylogenetic diversity, and phylogenetic endemism. We infer that the topographic complexity of the region may be driving the assembly of the pteridophyte flora indirectly by influencing climate and precipitation patterns.