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Carlos collecting Quercus ×alentejana (Q. faginea × Q. pyrenaica) in northeastern Portugal for his PhD thesis © Carlos Vila-Viçosa
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Quercus crassipes acorns with inrolled cupule margin
One of the more well-known Mexican oaks in cultivation.

Climatic Niche Evolution of the Cyclobalanopsis

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Dong-Mei Jin, Quan Yuan, Xi-Ling Dai, Gregor Kozlowski, and Yi-Gang Song

Published May 2023 in International Oaks No. 34: 111–116


To understand how past geological events and climate changes have shaped extant patterns of diversity is a central goal in biogeography. The uplift of the Himalayan-Tibetan region profoundly changed the environment in Eastern Asia, especially in the development of vast evergreen broadleaf forests (EBLFs) in the Subtropical Zone. However, when and how these forests developed remains unclear. Here we focus on Quercus section Cyclobalanopsis, a dominant component of EBLFs since the Miocene in Eastern Asia.

In this study we integrated occurrence data, climate data, and a published phylogeny of 35 species of section Cyclobalanopsis with ecological niche modeling (MaxEnt) to explore the evolution of climatic tolerance of section Cyclobalanopsis since the late Eocene (34 Mya).

The intensification of the East Asian monsoon system and occupation of new climatic niches by the ancient clades already present in the Himalayas and in tropical Asia may have jointly promoted the formation of subtropical EBLFs in Eastern Asia since the Miocene, especially the late Miocene.


subtropical  evergreen  broadleaf  forest,  East  Asian  monsoon  system, Himalayas, Miocene


Deng, M., X.-L. Jiang, A.L. Hipp, P.S. Manos, and M. Hahn. 2018. Phylogeny and biogeography of East Asian evergreen oaks (Quercus section Cyclobalanopsis; Fagaceae): Insights into the Cenozoic history of evergreen broad-leaved forests in subtropical Asia. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 119: 170-181.

Denk, T., G.W. Grimm, P.S. Manos, M. Deng, and A.L. Hipp. 2017. An updated infrageneric classification of the oaks: review of previous taxonomic schemes and synthesis of evolutionary patterns. In Oaks Physiological Ecology. Exploring the Functional Diversity of Genus Quercus L. Cham, Switzerland: Springer International Publishing AG.

Evans, M.E.K., S.A. Smith, R.S. Flynn, and M.J. Donoghue. 2009. Climate, Niche Evolution, and Diversification of the "Bird-Cage" Evening Primroses (Oenothera, Sections Anogra and Kleinia). American Naturalist 173: 225-240.

Farnsworth, A., D.J. Lunt, S.A. Robinson, P.J. Valdes, W.H.G. Roberts, P.D. Clift, P. Martwick, et al. 2019. Past East Asian monsoonevolution controlled by paleogeography, not CO . Science Advances 5(10): eaax1697.

Guo, Z.T., B. Sun, Z.S. Zhang, S.Z. Peng, G.Q. Xiao, J.Y. Ge, Q.Z. Hao, et al. 2008. A major reorganisation of Asian climate by the early Miocene. Clim. Past. 4: 153-174.

Su, T., R.A. Spicer, S.-H. Li, H. Xu, J. Huang, S. Sherlock, Y.-J. Huang, et al. 2019. Uplift, climate and biotic changes at the Eocene- Oligocene transition in south-eastern Tibet. National Science Review 6: 495-504.

Sun, X.J., and P.X. Wang. 2005. How old is the Asian monsoon system? Palaeobotanical records from China. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 22(3-4): 181-222.

Xiao, T.-W., H.-F. Yan, and X.-J. Ge. 2022. Plastid phylogenomics of tribe Perseeae (Lauraceae) yields insights into the evolution of East Asian subtropical evergreen broad-leaved forests. Bmc Plant Biology 22(1): 1-15.

Xu, H., T. Su, S.-T. Zhang, M. Deng, and Z.-K. Zhou. 2016. The first fossil record of ring-cupped oak (Quercus L. subgenus Cyclobalanopsis (Oersted) Schneider) in Tibet and its paleoenvironmental implications. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 442: 61-71.

Yu, X.-Q., L.-M. Gao, D.E. Soltis, P.S. Soltis, J.-B. Yang, L. Fang, S.-X. Yang, and D.-Z. Li. 2017. Insights into the historical assembly of East Asian subtropical evergreen broadleaved forests revealed by the temporal history of the tea family. New Phytologist 215: 1235-1248.

Zhao, N., S. Park, Y.Q. Zhang, Z.L. Nie, X.J. Ge, S. Kim, and H.F. Yan. 2022. Fingerprints of climatic changes through the late Cenozoic in southern Asian flora: Magnolia section Michelia (Magnoliaceae). Annals of Botany 130(1): 41-52.