Climatic niches are essential in determining where species can occur and how they will respond to climate change. However, it remains unclear if climatic-niche evolution is similar in plants and animals or is intrinsically different. For example, previous authors have proposed that plants have broader environmental tolerances than animals but are more sensitive to climate change. Here, we test ten predictions about climatic-niche evolution in plants and animals, using phylogenetic and climatic data for 19 plant clades and 17 vertebrate clades (2,087 species total). Surprisingly, we find that for all ten predictions, plants and animals show similar patterns. For example, in both groups, climatic niches change at similar mean rates and species have similar mean niche breadths, and niche breadths show similar relationships with latitude across groups. Our results suggest that there are general ‘rules’ of climatic-niche evolution that span plants and animals, despite the fundamental differences in their biology. These results may help to explain why plants and animals have similar responses to climate change and why they often have shared species richness patterns, biogeographic regions, biomes and biodiversity hotspots.
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Supplementary Datasets 1–12 are available on Dryad (https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.wh70rxwjm).
All the R codes used in this study are available in Supplementary Dataset 11 on Dryad (https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.wh70rxwjm).
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We thank the many authors who provided us with their trees and locality data. H.L. acknowledges financial support from National Natural Science Foundation of China grant no. 31670411, Youth Innovation Promotion Association of the Chinese Academy of Sciences grant no. 2019339 and State Scholarship Fund of China Scholarship Council grant no. 201804910141. J.J.W. was supported by US National Science Foundation grant no. DEB 1655690.
The authors declare no competing interests.
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Liu, H., Ye, Q. & Wiens, J.J. Climatic-niche evolution follows similar rules in plants and animals. Nat Ecol Evol 4, 753–763 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41559-020-1158-x
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