Phylogenetic niche conservatism and variations in species diversity–climate relationships

Qinggang Wang, Yaoqi Li, Dongting Zou, Xiangyan Su, Hongyu Cai, Ao Luo, Ke Jiang, Xiaoling Zhang, Xiaoting Xu, Nawal Shrestha, Zhiheng Wang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Although contemporary climate has been identified as one of the major determinants of large-scale species diversity patterns, its effect on species diversity greatly varies among clades. Understanding the drivers of the variation in species diversity–climate relationships (DCRs) across clades, which is critical for developing general mechanisms underlying the effects of climate on species diversity patterns, remains a current challenge. Using newly compiled distribution data of 914 Rosaceae species in China and a dated genus-level phylogeny, we first assessed the DCRs for the entire family, the two major growth forms (woody versus herbaceous), and each genus separately, and then explored the drivers underlying the variation in DCRs across different clades. We found that the DCRs significantly differed between woody and herbaceous plants and among different genera in this family. Closely related genera had more similar species diversity patterns and DCRs than expected. Both the ancestral climate niches of different genera and the discrepancy between contemporary and ancestral climate niches explained the variations in DCR slopes across genera with high explanatory power, indicating the effect of niche conservatism on DCRs. Our study suggests that niche conservatism is a major driver of DCR variations between clades, which enhances our understanding of the mechanisms underlying large-scale species diversity patterns.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1856-1868
Number of pages13
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • climatic gradient
  • evolutionary history
  • historical climate change
  • rose family
  • species diversity gradient

Cite this