A team led by Prof. Wang Wei from the Institute of Botany of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (IBCAS) revealed the evolutionary history of Arctic flora. The study was published in Communication in Nature.
The Arctic tundra, north of the natural tree line, is a relatively young and new type of biome and is particularly sensitive to the effects of global warming. The composition, density, and distribution of Arctic vegetation is changing due to climate warming. Therefore, there is an urgent need to better understand how the Arctic flora has formed over time.
In this study, researchers selected 32 angiosperm clades comprising 3,626 species belonging to 10 orders and 16 families across the angiosperm tree of life. They found that dispersal into the Arctic and in situ diversification within the Arctic followed similar trends over time, beginning at about 10–9 Ma, peaking at about 2.6 Ma, and peaking at about 1.0– 0.7 Ma.
The researchers suggest that the onset and diversification of modern Arctic flora may have been jointly driven by progressive landscape and climate change and sea-level fluctuations since the early Late Miocene.
In addition, they identified western North America as a major source of plant biodiversity in the Arctic.
“We found that the origin of the Arctic flora dates back to the early Late Miocene, which is earlier than the common view when this flora first appeared. And we show that immigration and in situ speciation contributed to the biodiversity of the Arctic biota , but the latter has long been overlooked,” said Wang, the study’s corresponding author.
Scientists also suggest that there is a long-term dispersal corridor between the Arctic and western North America.
“We need to make the dispersal corridor between the Arctic and western North America a conservation priority,” Wang said.
Fu-Cai Xia, Evolutionary history of Arctic flora, Communication in Nature (2023). DOI: 10.1038/s41467-023-39555-6. www.nature.com/articles/s41467-023-39555-6
Awarded by the Chinese Academy of Sciences
Citation: Scientists unravel evolutionary history of Arctic flora (2023, July 18) retrieved on July 18, 2023 from https://phys.org/news/2023-07-scientists-unravel-evolutionary-history-arctic. html
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