Biodiversity Science ›› 2009, Vol. 17 ›› Issue (6): 635-643.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1003.2009.09143

Special Issue: Species Diversity in Biological Communities: Patterns and Mechanisms

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Historical hypothesis in explaining spatial patterns of species richness

Zhiyao Tang*, Zhiheng Wang, Jingyun Fang   

  1. Department of Ecology, College of Urban and Environmental Sciences, Center for Ecological Research & Education, and Key Laboratory for Earth Surface Processes of the Ministry of Education, Peking University, Beijing 100871
  • Received:2009-06-03 Online:2009-11-20

Spatial patterns of biodiversity are results of contemporary climate, disturbance, and geological history. In this paper, we review the historical hypothesis which explains historical importance in shaping biodiversity patterns, focusing on the recent development in its studies on mechanisms, parameter selection, and relative importance of historical factors versus contemporary climate. Based on literature research, we conclude that, (1) the historical events significantly affect the present patterns of biodiversity, and that these effects are masked by the strong collinearity between historical processes and contemporary climate; (2) historical processes are more significant in influencing distributional patterns of species with small ranges (or endemic species) than those of wide-spread species; (3) measurement of historical processes is a challenge in testing historical hypothesis, as the surrogates currently used are strongly collinear with contemporary climates. Phylogenetic analysis may be help assess the importance of historical hypothesis in controlling spatial patterns of biodiversity.

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