Aim This study aimed to detect distribution patterns and identify diversity hotspots for Chinese endemic woody seed plant species (CEWSPS).
Methods Presence of 6885 CEWSPS throughout China was mapped by taking the Chinese administrative county as the basic spatial analysis unit. The diversity was measured with five indices: endemic richness (ER), weighted endemism (WE), phylogenetic diversity (PD), phylogenetic endemism (PE) and biogeographically weighted evolutionary distinctiveness (BED). Three levels of area (i.e. 1, 5 and 10% of China’s total land area) were used to identify hotspots, but the 5% level was preferred when both the total area of the hotspots identified and the diversity of CEWSPS reached by the hotspots were considered.
Results Distribution patterns of CEWSPS calculated with the five indices are consistent with each other over the national extent. However, the hotspots do not show a high degree of consistency among the results derived from the five indices. Those identified with ER and PD are very similar, and so are those with WE and BED. In total, 20 hotspots covering 7.9% of China’s total land area were identified, among which 11 were identified with all the five indices, including the Hengduan Mountains, Xishuangbanna Region, Hainan Island, and eight mountainous areas located in east Chongqing and west Hubei, in east Yunnan and west Guangxi, in north Guangxi, south-east Guizhou and south-west Hunan, in north Guangdong and south Hunan, in south-east Tibet, and in south-east Hubei and north-west Jiangxi. Taiwan Island was also identified as a major hotspot with WE, PE and BED.
Main conclusions Hotspots of CEWSPS were identified with five indices considering both distributional and phylogenetic information. They cover most of the key areas of biodiversity defined by previous researchers using other approaches. This further verifies the importance of these areas for China’s biodiversity conservation.