Stable climate characterises hotspots of grass endemism

Glacial-interglacial climate cycles have far-reaching consequences for ecosystems and it is widely recognised that regions with a history of unstable climates have few endemic species and are susceptible to the establishment of exotic, non-native species from comparatively stable regions. Sandel et al. tested these hypotheses with a global dataset of grass species distributions.

Past climate change velocity, expected future velocity and the ratio of expected future:past
Past climate change velocity (A), expected future velocity (B) and the ratio of expected future:past (C, relative velocity increases). In each map, the 55 regions with EP > 0·1 (endemism hotspots) are outlined.

Grass endemism is shown to be highly concentrated in regions with historically stable climates. Exotic species occur in areas with extremely stable or unstable climates, with the majority originating from stable regions. This study provides a historical context for the hypothesis that future climate change may increase the likelihood of non-native species invasions.

Endemism Hotspots Cover

This article is part of the AoB Special Issue on Endemism Hotspots as Climate Change Refugia, which is free access for a couple of months, then behind the paywall for a while before being free access after February 2017.

Reference List

Sandel, B., Monnet, A.-C., Govaerts, R., & Vorontsova, M. (2016). Late Quaternary climate stability and the origins and future of global grass endemism. Annals of Botany, 119(2), 279–288.