Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting nature.com. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Maximum levels of global phylogenetic diversity efficiently capture plant services for humankind

Abstract

The divergent nature of evolution suggests that securing the human benefits that are directly provided by biodiversity may require counting on disparate lineages of the Tree of Life. However, quantitative evidence supporting this claim is still tenuous. Here, we draw on a global review of plant-use records demonstrating that maximum levels of phylogenetic diversity capture significantly greater numbers of plant-use records than random selection of taxa. Our study establishes an empirical foundation that links evolutionary history to human wellbeing, and it will serve as a discussion baseline to promote better-grounded accounts of the services that are directly provided by biodiversity.

This is a preview of subscription content

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

from$8.99

All prices are NET prices.

Fig. 1: Relative gain in plant-use records and equitability in their distribution among categories.
Fig. 2: Relative gains in plant-use records per category.

Data availability

The data that support the findings of this study are available at https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.13625546.v1.

Code availability

All the code used in this research is available as functions that were either implemented in published R packages or provided as supplementary material in a previous open-access study.

References

  1. 1.

    Faith, D. P. et al. Evosystem services: an evolutionary perspective on the links between biodiversity and human well-being. Curr. Opin. Environ. Sust. 2, 66–74 (2010).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. 2.

    Cámara-Leret, R. et al. Fundamental species traits explain provisioning services of tropical American palms. Nat. Plants 3, 16220 (2017).

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  3. 3.

    Oka, C., Aiba, M. & Nakashizuka, T. Phylogenetic clustering in beneficial attributes of tree species directly linked to provisioning, regulating and cultural ecosystem services. Ecol. Indic. 96, 477–495 (2019).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    Faith, D. P. Conservation evaluation and phylogenetic diversity. Biol. Conserv. 61, 1–10 (1992).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. 5.

    Vane-Wright, R. I., Humphries, C. J. & Williams, P. H. What to protect?—Systematics and the agony of choice. Biol. Conserv. 55, 235–254 (1991).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

    Crozier, R. H. Genetic diversity and the agony of choice. Biol. Conserv. 61, 11–15 (1992).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. 7.

    Tucker, C. M. et al. Assessing the utility of conserving evolutionary history. Biol. Rev. 94, 1740–1760 (2019).

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  8. 8.

    Owen, N. R., Gumbs, R., Gray, C. L. & Faith, D. P. Global conservation of phylogenetic diversity captures more than just functional diversity. Nat. Commun. 10, 859 (2019).

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  9. 9.

    Mazel, F. et al. Prioritizing phylogenetic diversity captures functional diversity unreliably. Nat. Commun. 9, 2888 (2018).

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  10. 10.

    Mazel, F. et al. Reply to: ‘Global conservation of phylogenetic diversity captures more than just functional diversity’. Nat. Commun. 10, 858 (2019).

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  11. 11.

    Forest, F. et al. Preserving the evolutionary potential of floras in biodiversity hotspots. Nature 445, 757–760 (2007).

    CAS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  12. 12.

    Cook, F. E. M. Economic Botany Data Collection Standard (International Working Group on Taxonomic Databases for Plant Sciences, Royal Botanic Gardens, UK, 1995).

  13. 13.

    Smith, S. A. & Brown, J. W. Constructing a broadly inclusive seed plant phylogeny. Am. J. Bot. 105, 302–314 (2018).

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  14. 14.

    Jin, Y. & Qian, H. V. PhyloMaker: an R package that can generate very large phylogenies for vascular plants. Ecography 42, 1353–1359 (2019).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. 15.

    Mabberley, D. J. Mabberley’s Plant-book: A Portable Dictionary of Plants, Their Classification and Uses 4th edn (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2017).

  16. 16.

    Cox, P. A. Will tribal knowledge survive the millennium? Science 287, 44–45 (2000).

    CAS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  17. 17.

    Cámara-Leret, R., Paniagua-Zambrana, N., Balslev, H. & Macía, M. J. Ethnobotanical knowledge is vastly under-documented in northwestern South America. PLoS ONE 9, e85794 (2014).

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  18. 18.

    Cámara-Leret, R. & Dennehy, Z. Information gaps in indigenous and local knowledge for science-policy assessments. Nat. Sustain. 2, 736–741 (2019).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. 19.

    Novotny, V. et al. Low host specificity of herbivorous insects in a tropical forest. Nature 416, 841–844 (2002).

    CAS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  20. 20.

    Gilbert, G. S., Magarey, R., Suiter, K. & Webb, C. O. Evolutionary tools for phytosanitary risk analysis: phylogenetic signal as a predictor of host range of plant pests and pathogens. Evol. Appl. 5, 869–878 (2012).

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  21. 21.

    Calatayud, J. et al. Geography and major host evolutionary transitions shape the resource use of plant parasites. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 113, 9840–9845 (2016).

    CAS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  22. 22.

    Pecl, G. T. et al. Biodiversity redistribution under climate change: impacts on ecosystems and human well-being. Science 355, eai9214 (2017).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. 23.

    Lehmann, P. et al. Complex responses of global insect pests to climate warming. Front. Ecol. Environ. 18, 141–150 (2020).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. 24.

    de Lucena, R. F. P. et al. The ecological apparency hypothesis and the importance of useful plants in rural communities from Northeastern Brazil: an assessment based on use value. J. Environ. Manag. 96, 106–115 (2012).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. 25.

    Menendez-Baceta, G. et al. The importance of cultural factors in the distribution of medicinal plant knowledge: a case study in four Basque regions. J. Ethnopharmacol. 161, 116–127 (2015).

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  26. 26.

    Webb, C. O., Ackerly, D. D., McPeek, M. A. & Donoghue, M. J. Phylogenies and community ecology. Annu. Rev. Ecol. Syst. 33, 475–505 (2002).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. 27.

    Global Information on Scoping for the Thematic Assessment of Sustainable Use of Wild Species (Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, 2018); https://ipbes.net/sustainable-use-wild-species-assessment

  28. 28.

    Karki, M., Senaratna Sellamuttu, S., Okayasu, S. & Suzuki, W. (eds) Regional Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services for Asia and the Pacific (Secretariat of the IPBES, 2018).

  29. 29.

    Pardo-de-Santayana, M. & Macía, M. The benefits of traditional knowledge. Nature 518, 487–488 (2015).

    CAS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  30. 30.

    Díaz, S. et al. Assessing nature’s contributions to people. Science 359, 270–272 (2018).

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  31. 31.

    Antonelli, A. et al. State of the World’s Plants and Fungi 2020 (Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, 2020).

  32. 32.

    Ulian, T. et al. Unlocking plant resources to support food security and promote sustainable agriculture. Plants People Planet 2, 421–445 (2020).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. 33.

    Plants of the World Online (Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, 2021); http://www.plantsoftheworldonline.org/

  34. 34.

    Zanne, A. E. et al. Three keys to the radiation of angiosperms into freezing environments. Nature 506, 89–92 (2014).

    CAS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  35. 35.

    The Plant List, version 1.1 (The Plant List, 2013); http://www.theplantlist.org/

  36. 36.

    Rangel, T. F. et al. Phylogenetic uncertainty revisited: implications for ecological analyses. Evolution 69, 1301–1312 (2015).

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  37. 37.

    Federhen, S. The NCBI taxonomy database. Nucleic Acids Res. 40, D136–D143 (2012).

    CAS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  38. 38.

    Hörandl, E. & Stuessy, T. F. Paraphyletic groups as natural units of biological classification. Taxon 59, 1641–1653 (2010).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  39. 39.

    Revell, L. J. phytools: an R package for phylogenetic comparative biology (and other things). Methods Ecol. Evol. 3, 217–223 (2012).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  40. 40.

    Rodrigues, A. S. L. & Gaston, K. J. Maximising phylogenetic diversity in the selection of networks of conservation areas. Biol. Conserv. 105, 103–111 (2002).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  41. 41.

    Bordewich, M., Rodrigo, A. G. & Semple, C. Selecting taxa to save or sequence: desirable criteria and a greedy solution. Syst. Biol. 57, 825–834 (2008).

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  42. 42.

    Pielou, E. C. The measurement of diversity in different types of biological collections. J. Theor. Biol. 13, 131–144 (1966).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  43. 43.

    Kembel, S. W. Disentangling niche and neutral influences on community assembly: assessing the performance of community phylogenetic structure tests. Ecol. Lett. 12, 949–960 (2009).

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  44. 44.

    R Core Team R: A Language and Environment for Statistical Computing (R Foundation for Statistical Computing, 2020).

  45. 45.

    Kembel, S. W. et al. Picante: R tools for integrating phylogenies and ecology. Bioinformatics 26, 1463–1464 (2010).

    CAS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  46. 46.

    Brummitt, R. K. World Geographical Scheme for Recording Plant Distributions 2nd edn (International Working Group on Taxonomic Databases for Plant Sciences, 2001).

  47. 47.

    Baselga, A. Partitioning the turnover and nestedness components of beta diversity. Glob. Ecol. Biogeogr. 19, 134–143 (2010).

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

We thank the Scientific Computation Center of Andalusia (CICA) for the computing services they provided and H. Lima for assistance in downloading plant distributional information from the web. This work was supported by the Regional Government of the Community of Madrid and the University of Alcalá through the project ‘Plant evolutionary history and human wellbeing in a changing world; assessing theoretical foundations using empirical evidence and new phylogenetic tools’, which was granted to R.M.-V. (CM/JIN/2019-005). R.M.-V. was supported by the TALENTO programme of the Regional Government of the Community of Madrid (2018-T2/AMB-10332). M.Á.R. was supported by the Ministry of Science and Innovation of Spain (grant CGL2017-86926-P).

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Contributions

R.M.-V. conceived the ideas, led the assemblage of the plant-use dataset with the help of M.P.S. and D.J.M., conducted the analyses and led the writing. C.R. led the assemblage of the continental datasets. M.Á.R. helped to design the structure of the draft. All the authors read, edited and commented on the manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Rafael Molina-Venegas.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Additional information

Peer review information Nature Ecology & Evolution thanks Rainer Bussmann and the other, anonymous, reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work. Peer reviewer reports are available.

Publisher’s note Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Extended data

Extended Data Fig. 1 Relationship between the phylogenetic structure of plant-use categories and relative gains per category under the PDmax strategy.

The dotted lines represent the regression models between the phylogenetic structure of plant-use categories (SES scores of PD averaged across 100 phylogenetic hypotheses) and SES scores of the relative gains per category across different sample sizes (S = 20, 40, 60 and 80% of the total pool). All regressions were significant for a nominal alpha of 0.1%.

Supplementary information

Supplementary Information

Supplementary Figs. 1–10 and Tables 1, 2 and 5.

Reporting Summary

Peer Review Information

Supplementary Tables 3 and 4

Supplementary Table 3. List of genera included in the study. Supplementary Table 4. Most derived consensus clades (MDCCs) for the phylogenetically uncertain taxa (PUTs) of the analysis.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Molina-Venegas, R., Rodríguez, M.Á., Pardo-de-Santayana, M. et al. Maximum levels of global phylogenetic diversity efficiently capture plant services for humankind. Nat Ecol Evol 5, 583–588 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41559-021-01414-2

Download citation

Further reading

Search

Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing