Abstract. It is often claimed that we do not understand the forces driving the global diversity gradient. However, an extensive literature suggests that contemporary climate constrains terrestrial taxonomic richness over broad geographic extents. Here, we review the empirical literature to examine the nature and form of the relationship between climate and richness. Our goals were to document the support for the climatically based energy hypothesis, and within the constraints imposed by correlative analyses, to evaluate two versions of the hypothesis: the productivity and ambient energy hypotheses. Focusing on studies extending over 800 km, we found that measures of energy, water, or water-energy balance explain spatial variation in richness better than other climatic and non-climatic variables in 82 of 85 cases. Even when considered individually and in isolation, water/ energy variables explain on average over 60% of the variation in the richness of a wide range of plant and animal groups. Further, water variables usually represent the strongest predictors in the tropics, subtropics, and warm temperate zones, whereas energy variables (for animals) or water-energy variables (for plants) dominate in high latitudes. We conclude that the interaction between water and energy, either directly or indirectly (via plant productivity), provides a strong explanation for globally extensive plant and animal diversity gradients, but for animals there also is a latitudinal shift in the relative importance of ambient energy vs. water moving from the poles to the equator. Although contemporary climate is not the only factor influencing species richness and may not explain the diversity pattern for all taxonomic groups, it is clear that understanding water-energy dynamics is critical to future biodiversity research. Analyses that do not include water-energy variables are missing a key component for explaining broad-scale patterns of diversity.
The diversity of life is ultimately generated by evolution, and much attention has focused on the rapid evolution of ecological traits. Yet, the tendency for many ecological traits to instead remain similar over time [niche conservatism (NC)] has many consequences for the fundamental patterns and processes studied in ecology and conservation biology. Here, we describe the mounting evidence for the importance of NC to major topics in ecology (e.g. species richness, ecosystem function) and conservation (e.g. climate change, invasive species). We also review other areas where it may be important but has generally been overlooked, in both ecology (e.g. food webs, disease ecology, mutualistic interactions) and conservation (e.g. habitat modification). We summarize methods for testing for NC, and suggest that a commonly used and advocated method (involving a test for phylogenetic signal) is potentially problematic, and describe alternative approaches. We suggest that considering NC: (1) focuses attention on the withinspecies processes that cause traits to be conserved over time, (2) emphasizes connections between questions and research areas that are not obviously related (e.g. invasives, global warming, tropical richness), and (3) suggests new areas for research (e.g. why are some clades largely nocturnal? why do related species share diseases?).
Broad-scale variation in taxonomic richness is strongly correlated with climate. Many mechanisms have been hypothesized to explain these patterns; however, testable predictions that would distinguish among them have rarely been derived. Here, we examine several prominent hypotheses for climate-richness relationships, deriving and testing predictions based on their hypothesized mechanisms. The Ôenergy-richness hypothesisÕ (also called the Ômore individuals hypothesisÕ ) postulates that more productive areas have more individuals and therefore more species. More productive areas do often have more species, but extant data are not consistent with the expected causal relationship from energy to numbers of individuals to numbers of species. We reject the energy-richness hypothesis in its standard form and consider some proposed modifications. The Ôphysiological tolerance hypothesisÕ postulates that richness varies according to the tolerances of individual species for different sets of climatic conditions. This hypothesis predicts that more combinations of physiological parameters can survive under warm and wet than cold or dry conditions. Data are qualitatively consistent with this prediction, but are inconsistent with the prediction that species should fill climatically suitable areas. Finally, the Ôspeciation rate hypothesisÕ postulates that speciation rates should vary with climate, due either to faster evolutionary rates or stronger biotic interactions increasing the opportunity for evolutionary diversification in some regions. The biotic interactions mechanism also has the potential to amplify shallower, underlying gradients in richness. Tests of speciation rate hypotheses are few (to date), and their results are mixed.
Aim Spatial autocorrelation in ecological data can inflate Type I errors in statistical analyses. There has also been a recent claim that spatial autocorrelation generates 'red herrings', such that virtually all past analyses are flawed. We consider the origins of this phenomenon, the implications of spatial autocorrelation for macro-scale patterns of species diversity and set out a clarification of the statistical problems generated by its presence.Location To illustrate the issues involved, we analyse the species richness of the birds of western/central Europe, north Africa and the Middle East.Methods Spatial correlograms for richness and five environmental variables were generated using Moran's I coefficients. Multiple regression, using both ordinary least-squares (OLS) and generalized least squares (GLS) assuming a spatial structure in the residuals, were used to identify the strongest predictors of richness. Autocorrelation analyses of the residuals obtained after stepwise OLS regression were undertaken, and the ranks of variables in the full OLS and GLS models were compared.Results Bird richness is characterized by a quadratic northsouth gradient. Spatial correlograms usually had positive autocorrelation up to c . 1600 km. Including the environmental variables successively in the OLS model reduced spatial autocorrelation in the residuals to non-detectable levels, indicating that the variables explained all spatial structure in the data. In principle, if residuals are not autocorrelated then OLS is a special case of GLS. However, our comparison between OLS and GLS models including all environmental variables revealed that GLS de-emphasized predictors with strong autocorrelation and long-distance clinal structures, giving more importance to variables acting at smaller geographical scales. ConclusionAlthough spatial autocorrelation should always be investigated, it does not necessarily generate bias. Rather, it can be a useful tool to investigate mechanisms operating on richness at different spatial scales. Claims that analyses that do not take into account spatial autocorrelation are flawed are without foundation.
Aim We surveyed the empirical literature to determine how well six diversity hypotheses account for spatial patterns in species richness across varying scales of grain and extent.Location Worldwide.Methods We identified 393 analyses ('cases') in 297 publications meeting our criteria. These criteria included the requirement that more than one diversity hypothesis was tested for its relationship with species richness. We grouped variables representing the hypotheses into the following 'correlate types': climate/ productivity, environmental heterogeneity, edaphics/nutrients, area, biotic interactions and dispersal/history (colonization limitation or other historical or evolutionary effect). For each case we determined the 'primary' variable: the one most strongly correlated with taxon richness. We defined 'primacy' as the proportion of cases in which each correlate type was represented by the primary variable, relative to the number of times it was studied. We tested for differences in both primacy and mean coefficient of determination of the primary variable between the hypotheses and between categories of five grouping variables: grain, extent, taxon (animal vs. plant), habitat medium (land vs. water) and insularity (insular vs. connected).Results Climate/productivity had the highest overall primacy, and environmental heterogeneity and dispersal/history had the lowest. Primacy of climate/ productivity was much higher in large-grain and large-extent studies than at smaller scales. It was also higher on land than in water, and much higher in connected systems than in insular ones. For other hypotheses, differences were less pronounced. Throughout, studies on plants and animals showed similar patterns. Coefficients of determination of the primary variables differed little between hypotheses and across the grouping variables, the strongest effects being low means in the smallest grain class and for edaphics/nutrients variables, and a higher mean for water than for land in connected systems but vice versa in insular systems. We highlight areas of data deficiency. Main conclusionsOur results support the notion that climate and productivity play an important role in determining species richness at large scales, particularly for non-insular, terrestrial habitats. At smaller extents and grain sizes, the primacy of the different types of correlates appears to differ little from null expectation. In our analysis, dispersal/history is rarely the best correlate of species richness, but this may reflect the difficulty of incorporating historical factors into regression models, and the collinearity between past and current climates. Our findings are consistent with the view that climate determines the capacity for species richness. However, its influence is less evident at smaller spatial scales, probably because (1) studies small in extent tend to sample little climatic range, and (2) at large
Abstract. The latitudinal diversity gradient is the largest scale, and longest known, pattern in ecology. We examined the applicability of three versions of the energy hypothesis, the habitat heterogeneity hypothesis, and historical contingency to the gradient of terrestrial birds. The productivity version of the energy hypothesis, tested using actual evapotranspiration, a water-energy variable closely associated with plant productivity, accounted for 72% of the variance in a model of global extent. An historical contingency model based on biogeographic region explained 58% of the variance. A combined climate-region model accounted for 78% of the variance, but 52% comprised the overlap between these effects. This suggests that further resolution of contemporary vs. historical processes at the global level will require the inclusion of phylogenetic information.Regional-extent regression models suggest a latitudinal shift in constraints on diversity; measures of ambient energy (potential evapotranspiration and mean annual temperature) best predicted the diversity gradient at high latitudes, whereas water-related variables (actual evapotranspiration and annual rainfall) best predicted richness in low-latitude, high-energy regions. Intraregional spatial autocorrelation analysis confirmed that climatic models adequately describe geographic richness patterns at all but the smallest spatial scales resolved by the analysis. We conclude that the ''water-energy dynamics'' hypothesis, originally developed for plant diversity gradients, offers a parsimonious explanation for bird diversity patterns as well, presumably operating via plant productivity. However, more refined tests of historical factors are needed to fully resolve their influences on the gradient.
How is the staggering biodiversity of the parasitoid insects maintained? This book, first published in 1994, explores patterns in host-parasitoid interactions, including parasitoid community richness, the importance of parasitoids as mortality factors, and their impact on host densities as determined by the outcomes of parasitoid introductions for biological control. It documents general patterns using data sets generated from the global literature and evaluates potential underlying biological, ecological and evolutionary mechanisms. A theme running throughout the book is the importance of host refuges as a major constraint on host-parasitoid interactions. Much can be learnt from the analysis of broad patterns; a few simple rules can go a long way in explaining the major components of these interactions. This book will be an invaluable resource for researchers interested in community ecology, population biology, entomology and biological control.
Aim To document geographical interspecific patterns of body size of European and North American squamate reptile assemblages and explore the relationship between body size patterns and environmental gradients. Location North America and western Europe. Methods We processed distribution maps for native species of squamate reptiles to document interspecific spatial variation of body size at a grain size of 110 × 110 km. We also examined seven environmental variables linked to four hypotheses possibly influencing body size gradients. We used simple and multiple regression, evaluated using information theory, to identify the set of models best supported by the data. Results Europe is characterized by clear latitudinal trends in body size, whereas geographical variation in body size in North America is complex. There is a consistent association of mean body size with measures of ambient energy in both regions, although lizards increase in size northwards whereas snakes show the opposite pattern. Our best models accounted for almost 60% of the variation in body size of lizards and snakes within Europe, but the proportions of variance explained in North America were less than 20%. Main conclusions Although body size influences the energy balance of thermoregulating ectotherms, inconsistent biogeographical patterns and contrasting associations with energy in lizards and snakes suggest that no single mechanism can explain variation of reptile body size in the northern temperate zone.
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