Climate change and land use threaten global hotspots of phylogenetic endemism for trees


Across the globe, tree species are under high anthropogenic pressure. Risks of extinction are notably more severe for species with restricted ranges and distinct evolutionary histories. Here, we use a global dataset covering 41,835 species (65.1% of known tree species) to assess the spatial pattern of tree species’ phylogenetic endemism, its macroecological drivers, and how future pressures may affect the conservation status of the identified hotspots. We found that low-to-mid latitudes host most endemism hotspots, with current climate being the strongest driver, and climatic stability across thousands to millions of years back in time as a major co-determinant. These hotspots are mostly located outside of protected areas and face relatively high land-use change and future climate change pressure. Our study highlights the risk from climate change for tree diversity and the necessity to strengthen conservation and restoration actions in global hotspots of phylogenetic endemism for trees to avoid major future losses of tree diversity.

Nature Communications