Theaceae, an economically important angiosperm family, is widely distributed in tropical and subtropical forests in Asia. In China, Theaceae has particularly high abundances and endemism, comprising ~75% of the total genera and ~46% of the total species worldwide. Therefore, predicting the response of Theaceae species to climate change is vital. In this study, we collected distribution data for 200 wild Theaceae species in China, and predicted their distribution patterns under current and future climactic conditions by species distribution modeling (SDM). We revealed that Theaceae species richness is highest in southeastern China and on Hainan Island, reaching its highest value (137 species) in Fujian Province. According to the IUCN Red List criteria for assessing species threat levels under two dispersal assumptions (no dispersal and full dispersal), we evaluated the conservation status of all Theaceae species by calculating loss of suitable habitat under future climate scenarios. We predicted that nine additional species will become threatened due to climate change in the future; one species will be classified as critically endangered (CR), two as endangered (EN), and six as vulnerable (VU). Given their extinction risks associated with climate change, we recommended that these species be added to the Red List. Our investigation of migration patterns revealed regional differences in the number of emigrant, immigrant, and persistent species, indicating the need for targeted conservation strategies. Importantly, regions with high species turnover are located on the northern border of the entire Theaceae species distribution ranges owing to upwards migration; these regions are considered most sensitive to climate change and conservation planning should therefore be prioritized here. This study will contribute valuable information for reducing the negative impacts of climate change on Theaceae species, which will ultimately improve biodiversity conservation efficiency
We compiled a list of Theaceae species in China according to the Flora of China (FOC; http://foc.eflora.cn/) and the Catalogue of Life China 2016 Annual Checklist (http://www.catalogueoflife.org/). We obtained species occurrences data from the National Specimen Information Infrastructure (NSII; http://www.nsii.org.cn/) and the Chinese Virtual Herbarium (CVH; http://www.cvh.ac.cn/).
Species distribution records of 200 Theaceae plants in China, including species code, species name, longitude and latitude. There are 12 055 distribution records of wild Theaceae species in China.