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The influence of climate and paleoclimate on distributions of global conifer clades depends on geographic range size

Cite this dataset

Sundaram, Mekala; Leslie, Andrew (2021). The influence of climate and paleoclimate on distributions of global conifer clades depends on geographic range size [Dataset]. Dryad.


Aim: We investigate how plant distributions are shaped by current and paleoclimate regimes. We specifically use global conifer biodiversity to test if paleoclimatic signatures are stronger in range-restricted taxa compared to widespread taxa. 

Location: Global

Taxon: Coniferales

Methods: We combine global geographic occurrences for 606 conifer species and 69 conifer genera with climate information (modern day and paleoclimate) to examine predictors of current conifer distribution. We test how climate predicts richness of range-restricted taxa and influences turnover of widespread taxa using generalized dissimilarity models and a zeta diversity framework. We also construct ensemble distribution models to test if paleoclimates differentially influence the current distribution of range-restricted versus widespread taxa.    

Results: Generalized dissimilarity models suggest that paleoclimatic variation in precipitation and temperature are associated with differences in richness of small-range species and genera; most of these taxa occur in areas of high climatic stability. Turnover among more widespread taxa, especially genera, is related to broad temperature gradients, including both modern climate and paleoclimatic variation in climate. Ensemble distribution models also suggest that paleoclimatic variation contributes more to the current range of genera with restricted ranges. 

Main conclusions: The most widespread conifers broadly follow past and current temperature gradients, leading to latitudinal sorting of genera based on their physiological adaptations. Range-restricted species and genera, however, preferentially occur in climatically stable regions, where they contribute to high richness hotspots. History, rather than current climate patterns, likely exerts a disproportionate influence on global patterns of richness in the group. 


The data provided here include latitude and longitude occurrence points collected from GBIF and herbarium locations (methods used to collate and download points decribed in Sundaram et al. 2019-

Spreadsheet titled 'Occurrence points' provides the following information:

  • FID = ID number/ observation number
  • Name = Short 5-8 letter code indicating which conifer species the occurrence point is for
  • lon = longitude in degrees (rounded to 1/10th decimal)
  • lat = latitude in degrees (rounded to 1/10th decimal)
  • species = Conifer binomial name for the occurrence point; binomial name is recorded as Genus_species