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Macroevolutionary patterns in European vegetation

Lososová, Z., Divíšek, J., Chytrý, M., Götzenberger, L., Těšitel, J., Mucina, L. and Duarte, L. (2020) Macroevolutionary patterns in European vegetation. Journal of Vegetation Science .

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Habitat‐specific species pools are shaped by ecological and evolutionary processes such as speciation, extinction, and migration. However, their role is poorly known because of the lack of robust data on species pools across a large number of plant community types and large areas. Here, we analyse a unique dataset of species pools of diagnostic species for all European vegetation types, asking: (a) what are the patterns of phylogenetic structure and phylogenetic beta‐diversity across European vegetation types and biomes; (b) what are the drivers of these patterns; and (c) is there a signal of niche conservatism at the level of biomes and broad categories of vegetation types?


Europe, Canary Islands, Madeira, Azores, Cyprus, Caucasus, Iceland and Greenland.


We built a dataset comprising 10,804 vascular plant species (almost 85% of the European flora) assigned to 106 vegetation types representing all European vegetated habitats, grouped into 11 biomes. This dataset represented habitat‐specific species pools. We analysed the phylogenetic structure of the species pools and related it to distribution range sizes of individual vegetation types, their successional status, levels of disturbance and environmental stress.


In European vegetation, phylogenetic overdispersion is associated with late‐successional habitats: several forest types, aquatic vegetation, and rock‐cliff vegetation serve as depositories of relict lineages. In contrast, phylogenetic clustering is typical of early successional and disturbed vegetation in anthropogenic, coastal and saline habitats, and in open‐canopy Mediterranean vegetation. The phylogenetic similarity of vegetation types is higher within than between broad categories of vegetation types and biomes.


The variable phylogenetic structure of European vegetation types is a heritage of evolutionary processes in the Tertiary and Quaternary. Habitat‐specific species pools of different vegetation types and biomes have been formed by different evolutionary processes as indicated by the observation that certain clades are significantly associated with certain vegetation types or biomes, hence indicating the phylogenetic niche conservatism.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Harry Butler Institute
Publisher: Opulus Press
Copyright: © 2020 International Association for Vegetation Science
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