Climatic-niche evolution follows similar rules in plants and animals

Hui Liu, Qing Ye, John J. Wiens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)753-763
Number of pages11
JournalNature Ecology and Evolution
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology


Dive into the research topics of 'Climatic-niche evolution follows similar rules in plants and animals'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this