Environmental influence on angiosperm diversity of different growth forms

Study of angiosperm richness and diversity in the horn of Africa shows greater effect of environment on structuring communities in woody than herbaceous species

Dracaena ombet
Dracaena ombet observed near Abala, Ethiopia by pfaucher. Photo via iNaturalist (CC BY-NC 4.0)

The environment affects the evolutionary and biogeographical history of all species, affecting both richness and phylogenetic diversity. However, different forms of organisms may respond in different ways in their adaptation to changes.

In this study, researchers assessed patterns of species richness and phylogenetic diversity in angiosperm plants of East Africa, while considering differences between groups of woody and herbaceous species.

Using GBIF-mediated occurrences of more than 5,600 species, the authors analysed correlations between environmental variables and plant diversity metrics, finding similar tendencies among both angiosperm groups with positive responses to precipitation measures, topography and soil nutrients.

The results did, however, also show that environmental variables explained larger variance in phylogenetic diversity for woody plants compared to herbaceous plants, suggesting a greater role of the environment in shaping community structures among trees and shrubs than herbs.

Original article

Zhou Y, Boru BH, Wang S and Wang Q (2020) Species richness and phylogenetic diversity of different growth forms of angiosperms across a biodiversity hotspot in the horn of Africa. Journal of Systematics and Evolution. Wiley. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1111/jse.12559