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Life history, diversity and distribution: a study of Japanese pteridophytes


  • Qinfeng Guo,

  • Masahiro Kato,

  • Robert E. Ricklefs

Q. Guo (, U. S. Geological Survey, 8711 37th St. SE, Jamestown, ND 58401, USA. – M. Kato, Dept of Biological Sciences, Univ. of Tokyo, Hongo, Tokyo 113, Japan. – R. E. Ricklefs, Dept of Biology, Univ. of Missouri–St Louis, 8001 Natural Bridge Road, St Louis, MO 63121, USA.


Many studies address the relationships between diversity or distribution and attributes of the physical environment. However, how these relationships are connected to variation in life history is poorly understood. This is particularly true in the case of pteridophytes. Japanese ferns and their allies comprise one of the best-known pteridophyte floras in the world. We analyzed ca 600 species of Japanese pteridophytes for which there is detailed information on distribution, reproduction, and chromosome number. Species richness was greatest in groups with a single reproductive mode (sexual, followed by apogamous), but distribution was greatest in species groups with multiple reproductive modes: sexual plus either sterile (irregular in meiosis) or apogamous. Geographical ranges varied greatly among species with small chromosome numbers but were uniformly small among species having high chromosome numbers. Seasonally green (mostly summer green) species had significantly larger distribution ranges than evergreen species. Endemic species had higher proportions of apogamy and sterility than non-endemic species. Seasonally green species had significantly larger distributional ranges, and a smaller proportion of species with apogamous reproduction, than evergreen species. There was no clear relationship between distribution and spore size, either among endemic species, non-endemic species, or all species combined. There was no relationship between spore size and chromosome number when all species were combined. However, positive relationships were detected within three of the nine largest genera, suggesting potential phylogenetic effects. We concluded that habitat availability, rather than dispersability, may be the limiting factor for the distribution of pteridophytes in Japan.