Extinction risk of Chinese angiosperms varies between woody and herbaceous species

Yuheng Chen, Yongbin Wu, Yuran Dong, Yao Li, Zhiwei Ge, Oduro George, Gang Feng, Lingfeng Mao*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Aim: Understanding how species' traits and environmental contexts relate to extinction risk is a critical priority for ecology and conservation biology. This study aims to identify and explore factors related to extinction risk between herbaceous and woody angiosperms to facilitate more effective conservation and management strategies and understand the interactions between environmental threats and species' traits. Location: China. Taxon: Angiosperms. Methods: We obtained a large dataset including five traits, six extrinsic variables, and 796,118 occurrence records for 14,888 Chinese angiosperms. We assessed the phylogenetic signal and used phylogenetic generalized least squares regressions to explore relationships between extinction risk, plant traits, and extrinsic variables in woody and herbaceous angiosperms. We also used phylogenetic path analysis to evaluate causal relationships among traits, climate variables, and extinction risk of different growth forms. Results: The phylogenetic signal of extinction risk differed among woody and herbaceous species. Angiosperm extinction risk was mainly affected by growth form, altitude, mean annual temperature, normalized difference vegetation index, and precipitation change from 1901 to 2020. Woody species' extinction risk was strongly affected by height and precipitation, whereas extinction risk for herbaceous species was mainly affected by mean annual temperature rather than plant traits. Main conclusions: Woody species were more likely to have higher extinction risks than herbaceous species under climate change and extinction threat levels varied with both plant traits and extrinsic variables. The relationships we uncovered may help identify and protect threatened plant species and the ecosystems that rely on them.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)232-243
Number of pages12
JournalDiversity and Distributions
Issue number2
Early online date2022
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • climate change
  • extinction risk
  • growth form
  • IUCN Red List
  • phylogeny
  • plant traits


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