- Multimillion-year climatic effects on palm species diversity in Africa
- Volume | Issue number
- 94 | 11
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Science (FNWI)
- Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED)
Past climatic changes have caused extinction, speciation, and range dynamics, but assessing the influence of past multimillion-year climatic imprints on present-day biodiversity patterns remains challenging. We analyzed a new continental-scale data set to examine the importance of paleoclimatic effects on current gradients in African palm richness patterns. Using climate reconstructions from the late Miocene (10 mya), the Pliocene (3 mya), and the Last Glacial Maximum (0.021 mya), we found that African palm diversity patterns exhibit pronounced historical legacies related to long-term climate change. Notably, pre-Pleistocene paleoprecipitation variables differentially affected current diversity patterns of palms grouped by contrasting habitat requirements. Accounting for present-day environment, rain forest palms exhibit greater species richness in localities where Pliocene precipitation was relatively high, whereas open-habitat palms show higher species richness in areas of relatively low precipitation during the Miocene Epoch. Our results demonstrate that diversity-climate relationships among African palm species include multimillion-year lagged dynamics, i.e., with historical legacies persisting across much longer time periods than commonly recognized.
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