Population divergence in plant species reflects latitudinal biodiversity gradients

Soo Hyung Eo, John P. Wares, John P. Carroll

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


The trend for increasing biodiversity from the poles to the tropics is one of the best-known patterns in nature. This latitudinal biodiversity gradient has primarily been documented so far with extant species as the measure of biodiversity. Here, we evaluate the global pattern in biodiversity across latitudes based on the magnitude of genetic population divergence within plant species, using a robust spatial design to compare published allozyme datasets. Like the pattern of plant species richness across latitudes, we expected the divergence among populations of current plant species would have a similar pattern and direction. We found that lower latitudinal populations showed greater genetic differentiation within species after controlling for geographical distance. Our analyses are consistent with previous population-level studies in animals, suggesting a high possibility of tropical peaks in speciation rates associated with observed levels of species richness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)382-384
Number of pages3
JournalBiology Letters
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 23 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Genetic population divergence
  • Latitudinal biodiversity gradient
  • Nei's genetic distance
  • Speciation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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