World distribution, diversity and endemism of aquatic macrophytes

K. Murphy, Andrey Efremov, Thomas A. Davidson, Eugenio Molina-Navarro, Karina Fidanza, Tânia Camila Crivelari Betiol, Patricia Chambers, Julissa Tapia Grimaldo, Sara Varandas Martins, I. Springuel, Michael Kennedy, Roger Paulo Mormul, Eric Dibble, Deborah Hofstra, Balázs András Lukács, Daniel Gebler, Lars Baastrup-Spohr, Jonathan Urrutia-Estrada

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94 Citations (Scopus)
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To test the hitherto generally-accepted hypothesis that most aquatic macrophytes have broad world distributions, we investigated the global distribution, diversity and endemism patterns of 3457 macrophyte species that occur in permanent, temporary or ephemeral inland freshwater and brackish waterbodies worldwide. At a resolution of 10 × 10° latitude x longitude, most macrophyte species were found to have narrow global distributions: 78% have ranges (measured using an approach broadly following the IUCN-defined concept “extent of occurrence”) that individually occupy <10% of the world area present within the six global ecozones which primarily provide habitat for macrophytes. We found evidence of non-linear relationships between latitude and macrophyte α- and γ-diversity, with diversity highest in sub-tropical to low tropical latitudes, declining slightly towards the Equator, and also declining strongly towards higher latitudes. Landscape aridity and, to a lesser extent, altitude and land area present per gridcell also influence macrophyte diversity and species assemblage worldwide. The Neotropics and Orient have the richest ecozone species-pools for macrophytes, depending on γ-diversity metric used. The region around Brasilia/Goiás (Brazil: gridcell 10–20 °S; 40–50 °W) is the richest global hotspot for macrophyte α-diversity (total species α-diversity, ST: 625 species/gridcell, 350 of them Neotropical endemics). In contrast, the Sahara/Arabian Deserts, and some Arctic areas, have the lowest macrophyte α-diversity (ST <20 species/gridcell). At ecozone scale, macrophyte species endemism is pronounced, though with a>5-fold difference between the most species-rich (Neotropics) and species-poor (Palaearctic) ecozones. Our findings strongly support the assertion that small-ranged species constitute most of Earth's species diversity.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103127
JournalAquatic Botany
Early online date17 Jun 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2019


The British Council; CONACYT (México); CNPq (Process 478311/2013-3), NUPELIA, CAPES (Brazil); EC/ACP Science & Technology Programme (AFS/2009/219013); Marie Curie Intra European Fellowship No.255180 (PRECISE); UK DfID DelPHE Programme; UK DEFRA Darwin Programme; and The Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland.


  • Aquatic plants
  • Biodiversity hotspots
  • Latitudinal diversity gradient
  • Macroecology
  • World ecozones

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science
  • Plant Science


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