J Syst Evol

• Research Article •    

Spatial patterns and drivers of native plant diversity in Hainan, China

Guo-Qing Wang1,2, Rosa A. Scherson3, Diego Vera3, Yun-Hao Bai4, Jun Wen5, Lin-Yuan Guo1,2, Alice C. Hughes6, and Hua-Feng Wang1,2*   

  1. 1 Sanya Nanfan Research Institute of Hainan University, Hainan Yazhou Bay Seed Laboratory, Sanya 572025, Hainan, China;
    2 Collaborative Innovation Center of Nanfan and High-Efficiency Tropical Agriculture, Sanya 572025, Hainan, China;
    3 Laboratorio de Evolución y Sistemática, Facultad de Ciencias Forestales y Conservación de la Naturaleza, Universidad de Chile, Santiago, Chile;
    4 Institute of Ecology, College of Urban and Environmental Sciences, Key Laboratory for Earth Surface Processes of the Ministry of Education, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China;
    5 Department of Botany, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC 20013-7012, USA;
    6 School of Biological Sciences, University of Hong Kong, Hongkong, China
    *Author for correspondence. E-mail:hfwang@hainanu.edu.cn
  • Received:2022-10-28 Accepted:2023-07-27 Online:2023-09-21

Abstract: Hainan Island has the most extensive and well-preserved tropical forests in China. With rapid economic development of Hainan, biodiversity is increasingly at risk. Determining the spatial patterns of plant diversity in Hainan and explaining the drivers behind plant diversity are important considerations in assessing and maximizing the effectiveness of national parks, such as the newly designated Hainan Rainforest National Park. We assessed phylogenetic diversity patterns, and species richness using 106 252 georeferenced specimen records and a molecular phylogeny of 3792 native plant species. Based on phylogenetic range-weighted turnover metrics, we divided Hainan flora into four major floristic units. The Grade of Membership model was used to further verify the four units, and to understand their boundaries and the internal structure of each floristic unit. Finally, the best combination model was used to explore the driving mechanisms underlying the division. Our results reveal that central Hainan is the most important hotspot for plant endemism and diversity, followed by the southern area. Environmental energy is the main factor determining the spatial patterns of native plant diversity on the island, and accessibility has the greatest impact on native plant diversity among social factors. We explore patterns of spatial phylogenetics and biogeography to identify potential priorities for management and conservation drivers of plant diversity patterns across Hainan, to provide the basis for the effective protection of native plant diversity and the improvement of national parks of Hainan Island.

Key words: biodiversity, drivers, floristic unit, Hainan Island, Hainan Tropical Rainforest National Park, spatial phylogenetics