J Syst Evol

• Research Articles •    

Climatic niche divergence explains angiosperm diversification across clades in China

Gui‐Lin Wu1, De‐Xiang Chen1, Zhang Zhou1, Qing Ye2,3*, Andrés Baselga4, Hui Liu3, Yin Wen3, and Shou‐Qian Nong1,5   

  1. 1 Hainan Jianfengling Forest Ecosystem National Field Science Observation and Research Station, Research Institute of Tropical Forestry, Chinese Academy of Forestry, Guangzhou 510520, China
    2 College of Life Sciences, Gannan Normal University, Ganzhou 341000, Jiangxi, China
    3 Key Laboratory of Vegetation Restoration and Management of Degraded Ecosystems, Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory of Applied Botany, South China Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Guangzhou 510650, China
    4 Departamento de Zoología, Facultad de Biología, Universidad de Santiago de Compostela, 15782 Santiago de Compostela, Spain
    5 Hainan Academy of Forest (Hainan Academy of Mangrove), Haikou 571100, China
  • Received:2022-02-07 Accepted:2022-11-01 Online:2022-11-14


Diversification rates are critically important for understanding patterns of species richness among clades. However, the effects of climatic niche width on plant diversification rates remain to be elucidated. Based on the phylogenetic, climatic, and distributional information of angiosperms in China, a total of 26 906 species from 182 families were included in this study. We aimed to test relationships between diversification rate and climatic niche width and climatic niche width related variables (including climatic niche divergence, climatic niche position, geographic extent, and climatic niche evolutionary rate) using phylogenetic methods. We found that climatic niche divergence had the largest unique contribution to the diversification rate, while the unique effects of climatic niche width, climatic niche position, geographic extent, and climatic niche evolutionary rate on the diversification rate were negligible. We also observed that the relationship between diversification rate and climatic niche divergence was significantly stronger than the null assumption (artefactual relationship between diversification and clade-level climatic niche width by sampling more species). Our study supports the hypothesis that wider family climatic niche widths explain faster diversification rates through a higher climatic niche divergence rather than through higher geographic extent, higher climatic niche evolutionary rate, or separated climatic niche position. Hence, the results provide a potential explanation for large-scale diversity patterns within families of plants.

Key words: angiosperm, climatic niche divergence, climatic niche position, climatic niche width, diversification rate, geographic extent