Postglacial change of the floristic diversity gradient in Europe.Nat Commun. 2019 11 28; 10(1):5422.NC
Climate warming is expected to cause a poleward spread of species, resulting in increased richness at mid to high latitudes and weakening the latitudinal diversity gradient. We used pollen data to test if such a change in the latitudinal diversity gradient occurred during the last major poleward shift of plant species in Europe following the end of the last glacial period. In contrast to expectations, the slope of the gradient strengthened during the Holocene. The increase in temperatures around 10 ka ago reduced diversity at mid to high latitude sites due to the gradual closure of forests. Deforestation and the introduction of agriculture during the last 5 ky had a greater impact on richness in central Europe than the earlier climate warming. These results do not support the current view that global warming alone will lead to a loss in biodiversity, and demonstrate that non-climatic human impacts on the latitudinal diversity gradient is of a greater magnitude than climate change.