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Evolutionary Legacy Effects on Ecosystems: Biogeographic Origins, Plant Traits, and Implications for Management in the Era of Global Change

  • Author(s): Cavender-Bares, J
  • Ackerly, DD
  • Hobbie, SE
  • Townsend, PA
  • et al.

Biogeographic origins of plant lineages are often reflected in species functional traits, with consequences for community assembly, diversity, and ecosystem function. The climatic and environmental conditions in which species evolved have lasting influence (legacy effects) through phylogenetic conservatism of traits that underlie community assembly and drive ecosystem processes. Legacy effects that influence community assembly may have direct consequences for ecosystem function or may be linked, owing to lineage history, to traits that impact ecosystems. Evolutionary priority effects, driven by the order of colonization and lineage diversification, as well as migration barriers and historical environmental changes, have shaped the diversity and composition of regional floras and their ecosystem functions. We examine the likely consequences of biogeographic history for plant responses to global change and consider how understanding linkages between biogeographic origins, functional traits, and ecosystem consequences can aid the management and restoration of ecosystems globally in the face of rapid environmental change.

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