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Modelling the potential ecological niche of domesticated buckwheat in China: archaeological evidence, environmental constraints and climate change

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jats:titleAbstract</jats:title>jats:pWe present a species distribution model (SDM) of jats:italicFagopyrum esculentum</jats:italic> (buckwheat) in China using present distribution data and estimates for the past based on palaeoclimatic reconstructions. Our model estimates the potential area suitable for buckwheat cultivation over the last 8,000 years, with northeast China consistently showing the highest suitability, providing insights on the discrepancy between the location of the earliest archaeobotanical records in the area and its origins in southwest China based on biogeographic and genetic data. The model suggests little to no variation over time in the spatial extent of the potential area suitable for buckwheat cultivation. In the northern parts of China, the limits of the ecological niche largely fall within the borders of the study area, while to the west it never extends into the main Tibetan plateau, explaining the lack of fossil evidence from Central Asia. In the southwest, the niche overlaps with the borders of modern China, which supports this direction as a viable route of westward dispersal. The comparison between the prediction from the model and sites with archaeobotanical evidence for jats:italicFagopyrum</jats:italic> indicates that the environmental niche it occupied remained stable over time. This may contrast with a dispersal pattern characterised by continuous adaptations to new environments facilitated by human activity, which may be suggested for other major and minor crops.</jats:p>



Fagopyrum, Ecological niche modelling, Species distribution modelling, Spread of agriculture, China

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Vegetation History and Archaeobotany

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Springer Science and Business Media LLC
Leverhulme Trust (RPG-2017-196)