Drought and life-history strategies in Heliophila (Brassicaceae)

Mucina L, Mummenhoff K, Winter P, van Niekerk A, Mandáková T, Lysak MA

New Phytologist 241: 532-534.


Monroe et al. (2019) claim that drought regimes predict life-history strategies in plants, using the taxonomically complex southern African genus Heliophila (Brassicaceae) as a model. The authors focused on a relatively short period (34 yr) of remote-sensing data, focusing on the Vegetative Health Index (VHI), ostensibly to represent drought frequency, and the authors use the term ‘historical drought regimes’ as a background to gain insight into the evolution of life histories in the genus.

Here, we argue that some of the procedures and conclusions presented by Monroe et al. (2019) are either simplistic or flawed due to methodological and conceptual errors. We shall demonstrate that Monroe et al. (2019): (1) relied on an inaccurate distribution data set; (2) uncritically presented and applied the phylogenetic data; and (3) presented a conceptual error by using a short-term climatic dataset to infer change in life history on evolutionary time scales.