Phylogenetic classification of the world’s tropical forests

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TitlePhylogenetic classification of the world’s tropical forests
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsSlik J.WFerry, Franklin J, Arroyo-Rodríguez V, Field R, Aguilar S, Aguirre N, Ahumada J, Aiba S-I, Alves LF, K A et al.
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
ISSN0027-8424
AbstractIdentifying and explaining regional differences in tropical forest dynamics, structure, diversity, and composition are critical for anticipating region-specific responses to global environmental change. Floristic classifications are of fundamental importance for these efforts. Here we provide a global tropical forest classification that is explicitly based on community evolutionary similarity, resulting in identification of five major tropical forest regions and their relationships: (i) Indo-Pacific, (ii) Subtropical, (iii) African, (iv) American, and (v) Dry forests. African and American forests are grouped, reflecting their former western Gondwanan connection, while Indo-Pacific forests range from eastern Africa and Madagascar to Australia and the Pacific. The connection between northern-hemisphere Asian and American forests is confirmed, while Dry forests are identified as a single tropical biome.Knowledge about the biogeographic affinities of the world’s tropical forests helps to better understand regional differences in forest structure, diversity, composition, and dynamics. Such understanding will enable anticipation of region-specific responses to global environmental change. Modern phylogenies, in combination with broad coverage of species inventory data, now allow for global biogeographic analyses that take species evolutionary distance into account. Here we present a classification of the world’s tropical forests based on their phylogenetic similarity. We identify five principal floristic regions and their floristic relationships: (i) Indo-Pacific, (ii) Subtropical, (iii) African, (iv) American, and (v) Dry forests. Our results do not support the traditional neo- versus paleotropical forest division but instead separate the combined American and African forests from their Indo-Pacific counterparts. We also find indications for the existence of a global dry forest region, with representatives in America, Africa, Madagascar, and India. Additionally, a northern-hemisphere Subtropical forest region was identified with representatives in Asia and America, providing support for a link between Asian and American northern-hemisphere forests.
URLhttp://www.pnas.org/content/early/2018/01/31/1714977115
DOI10.1073/pnas.1714977115