Phylogenetic legacy and phylogenetic trends affect the ecology of species—except, apparently, for the width of their distribution. As a result, “macroecological” patterns of species distributions emerge constantly in phylogenetically very distinct species assemblages. The width of the global distribution of species, for instance, constantly correlates positively to the width of their regional distribution. However, such patterns primarily reflect the phylogenetically derived species that dominate most assemblages. Basal species, in contrast, might show different macroecological patterns. We tested the hypothesis that the correlation between global and regional distributions of species diminishes among the phylogenetically basal species. We considered central European higher plants and defined global distribution as the occupancy of global floristic zones, regional distribution as the grid occupancy in Eastern Germany, and phylogenetic position as the rank distance to tree base. We also took into account a number of confounding variables. We found that, across all lineages, the global/regional correlation diminished among basal species. We then reanalyzed 19 lineages separately and always found the same pattern. The pattern reflected both increases in global distributions and decreases in regional distributions among basal species. The results indicate that many basal species face a risk of global or at least regional extinction, but have escaped the downward spiral of mutually reinforcing extinction risks at multiple scales. We suggest that many basal species had much time to expand their global ranges but are presently displaced locally by more derived species. Overall, the study shows that macroecological patterns may not be static and universal, but may undergo macroevolutionary trends. Analyses of macroecological patterns across a phylogeny may thus provide insights into macroevolutionary processes.
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Vol. 58 • No. 12