A world map of plant diversity

by University of Göttingen, Nov 15, 2022 in ScienceDaily

Why are there more plant species in some places than in others? Why is diversity highest in the tropics? What is the connection between biodiversity and environmental conditions? To help answer these questions, an international team led by researchers at the University of Göttingen has reconstructed the distribution of plant diversity around the world and made high-resolution predictions of where and how many plant species there are. This will support conservation efforts, help to protect plant diversity and assess changes in the light of the ongoing biodiversity and climate crises. Their research was published in New Phytologist.

Based on a unique global dataset of 830 regional floras and the distribution of 300,000 plant species compiled at the University of Göttingen over ten years, researchers modelled the relationship between plant diversity and environmental conditions using modern machine learning techniques. By incorporating the relatedness of the species to each other, they were able to take into account the evolutionary history of plants occurring in each geographic region. The models were then used to predict plant diversity continuously around the world considering past and present geographic and climatic conditions.