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Ecological determinants of mean family age of angiosperm trees in forest communities in China.


ABSTRACT: Species assemblage in a local community is determined by the interplay of evolutionary and ecological processes. The Tropical Niche Conservatism hypothesis proposes mechanisms underlying patterns of biodiversity in biological communities along environmental gradients. This hypothesis predicts that, among other things, clades in areas with warm or wet environments are, on average, older than those in areas with cold or dry environments. Focusing on angiosperm trees in forests, this study tested the age-related prediction of the Tropical Niche Conservatism hypothesis. We related the mean family age of angiosperm trees in 57 local forests from across China with 23 current and paleo-environmental variables, which included all major temperature- and precipitation-related variables. Our study shows that the mean family age of angiosperm trees in local forests was positively correlated with temperature and precipitation. This finding is consistent with the age-related prediction of the Tropical Niche Conservatism hypothesis. Approximately 85% of the variance in the mean family age of angiosperm trees was explained by temperature-related variables, and 81% of the variance in the mean family age of angiosperm trees was explained by precipitation-related variables. Climatic conditions at the Last Glacial Maximum did not explain additional variation in mean family age after accounting for current environmental conditions.

SUBMITTER: Qian H 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC4926104 | BioStudies | 2016-01-01T00:00:00Z

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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