Patterns of rain forest plant endemism in subtropical Australia relate to stable mesic refugia and species dispersal limitations
Article first published online: 11 DEC 2013
© 2013 John Wiley & Sons Ltd
Journal of Biogeography
Volume 41, Issue 2, pages 222–238, February 2014
How to Cite
Weber, L. C., VanDerWal, J., Schmidt, S., McDonald, W. J. F., Shoo, L. P. (2014), Patterns of rain forest plant endemism in subtropical Australia relate to stable mesic refugia and species dispersal limitations. Journal of Biogeography, 41: 222–238. doi: 10.1111/jbi.12219
- Issue published online: 18 JAN 2014
- Article first published online: 11 DEC 2013
- National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility
- South East Queensland Climate Adaptation Research Initiative
- Queensland and Australian governments
- CSIRO Climate Adaptation National Research Flagship
- Griffith University
- University of the Sunshine Coast
- University of Queensland
- centres of endemism;
- climate change;
- Eastern Australia;
- rain forest;
- seed dispersal;
- subtropical rain forest
Our aims were to identify centres of endemism and to infer whether these areas have functioned as refugia for subtropical rain forest plants through historical climate fluctuations.
Subtropical eastern Australia (23–33° S; 145–155° E).
We collated 25,000 records of 179 endemic rain forest plants to identify geographical areas with unusually high concentrations of endemic taxa and range-restricted endemics. We then tested whether centres of endemism coincide with other features indicating refugia, including habitat stability over 120,000 years, and we related dispersal patterns to past habitat stability using seed weight as a surrogate for dispersal ability of endemic plant taxa.
We identified five main centres of endemism. Historical stability and other processes affecting diversity, including current rainfall, rain forest area, and topographic complexity, explained 58% of variation in plant-weighted endemism. Taxa with poor dispersal ability were concentrated in the areas that were most stable historically.
Several lines of evidence suggest that centres of endemism have functioned as important refugia for subtropical rain forest taxa through historical climate fluctuations. The highest concentrations of range-restricted endemic species occur in locations that are predicted to have maintained stable rain forest habitat over at least the past 120,000 years. This association was independent from other factors that were expected to promote diversity (i.e. rain forest area and current environmental suitability). These locations have disproportionately high concentrations of species with poor dispersal ability (large-seeded species).