Evolutionary diversity in tropical tree communities peaks at intermediate precipitation

Danilo M. Neves, Kyle G. Dexter, Timothy R. Baker, Fernanda Coelho De Souza, Ary T. Oliveira-filho, Luciano P. Queiroz, Haroldo C. Lima, Marcelo F. Simon, Gwilym P. Lewis, Ricardo A. Segovia, Luzmila Arroyo, Carlos Reynel, José L. Marcelo-peña, Isau Huamantupa-chuquimaco, Daniel Villarroel, G. Alexander Parada, Aniceto Daza, Reynaldo Linares-palomino, Leandro V. Ferreira, Rafael P. SalomãoGeovane S. Siqueira, Marcelo T. Nascimento, Claudio N. Fraga, R. Toby Pennington

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Global patterns of species and evolutionary diversity in plants are primarily determined by a temperature gradient, but precipitation gradients may be more important within the tropics, where plant species richness is positively associated with the amount of rainfall. The impact of precipitation on the distribution of evolutionary diversity, however, is largely unexplored. Here we detail how evolutionary diversity varies along precipitation gradients by bringing together a comprehensive database on the composition of angiosperm tree communities across lowland tropical South America (2,025 inventories from wet to arid biomes), and a new, large-scale phylogenetic hypothesis for the genera that occur in these ecosystems. We find a marked reduction in the evolutionary diversity of communities at low precipitation. However, unlike species richness, evolutionary diversity does not continually increase with rainfall. Rather, our results show that the greatest evolutionary diversity is found in intermediate precipitation regimes, and that there is a decline in evolutionary diversity above 1,490 mm of mean annual rainfall. If conservation is to prioritise evolutionary diversity, areas of intermediate precipitation that are found in the South American ‘arc of deforestation’, but which have been neglected in the design of protected area networks in the tropics, merit increased conservation attention.
Original languageEnglish
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 24 Jan 2020


Dive into the research topics of 'Evolutionary diversity in tropical tree communities peaks at intermediate precipitation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this