DOI: 10.3390/d15090986 ISSN:

The Influence of Macroclimatic Drivers on the Macrophyte Phylogenetic Diversity in South African Estuaries

Dimitri Allastair Veldkornet
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Ecological Modeling
  • Ecology

The geographical distribution of plants is influenced by macroclimate and dispersal limitations, which have led to lineage isolation and subsequent diversification within and across various environmental gradients. Macroclimatic variables in coastal wetlands influence plant species and lineages across biogeographical boundaries. This study aimed to determine the influence of macroclimatic variables on species and phylogenetic richness in South African estuaries. Open-source chloroplast DNA barcoding sequences, species distribution and climatic data layers were used to determine the relationship between species richness, MPD, MNTD and each bioclimatic variable individually. Temperate species richness and phylogenetic diversity were positively correlated with temperature bioclimatic variables whereas subtropical and tropical species were associated with increases in precipitation. Phylogenetic niche conservatism is evident in malvids and rosids which are restricted to tropical and subtropical regions due to their physiological adaptations to tropical climates. Caryophylales was mostly associated with temperate regions. Poales and Alismatales showed wide distributions that is likely attributed to traits related to wind pollination and hydrochory, rapid, clonal, and high reproductive output, tolerance to stressful conditions, and intraspecific genetic diversity. The findings highlight the importance of considering macroclimate and phylogenetic factors in understanding the distribution and diversity of coastal wetland plants.

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