The latitudinal species richness gradient in New World woody angiosperms is consistent with the tropical conservatism hypothesis.
ABSTRACT: Plant diversity, like that of most other taxonomic groups, peaks in the tropics, where climatic conditions are warm and wet, and it declines toward the temperate and polar zones as conditions become colder and drier, with more seasonally variable temperatures. Climate and evolutionary history are often considered competing explanations for the latitudinal gradient, but they are linked by the evolutionarily conserved environmental adaptations of species and the history of Earth's climate system. The tropical conservatism hypothesis (TCH) invokes niche conservatism, climatic limitations on establishment and survival, and paleoclimatic history to explain the latitudinal diversity gradient. Here, we use latitudinal distributions for over 12,500 woody angiosperm species, a fossil-calibrated supertree, and null modeling to test predictions of the TCH. Regional assemblages in the northern and southern temperate zones are less phylogenetically diverse than expected based on their species richness, because temperate taxa are clustered into relatively few clades. Moreover, lineages with temperate affinities are generally younger and nested within older, more tropical lineages. As predicted by the TCH, the vast majority of temperate lineages have arisen since global cooling began at the Eocene-Oligocene boundary (34 Mya). By linking physiological tolerances of species to evolutionary and biogeographic processes, phylogenetic niche conservatism may provide a theoretical framework for a generalized explanation for Earth's predominant pattern of biodiversity.
Project description:The underlying mechanisms responsible for the general increase in species richness from temperate regions to the tropics remain equivocal. Many hypotheses have been proposed to explain this astonishing pattern but additional empirical studies are needed to shed light on the drivers at work. Here we reconstruct the evolutionary history of the cosmopolitan diving beetle subfamily Colymbetinae, the majority of which are found in the Northern hemisphere, hence exhibiting an inversed latitudinal diversity gradient. We reconstructed a dated phylogeny using 12 genes, to investigate the biogeographical history and diversification dynamics in the Colymbetinae. We aimed to identify the role that phylogenetic niche conservatism plays in the inversed diversification pattern seen in this group. Our results suggest that Colymbetinae originated in temperate climates, which supports the hypothesis that their distribution is the result of an ancestral adaptation to temperate environmental conditions rather than tropical origins, and that temperate niche conservatism can generate and/or maintain inverse latitudinal diversity gradients.
Project description:Many groups of organisms show greater species richness in the tropics than in the temperate zone, particularly in tropical montane regions. Forty years ago, Janzen suggested that more limited temperature seasonality in the tropics leads to greater climatic zonation and more climatic barriers to organismal dispersal along elevational gradients in the tropics relative to temperate regions. These factors could lead to differences in how species arise in tropical versus temperate regions and possibly contribute to greater tropical diversity. However, no studies have compared the relationships among climate, elevational distribution and speciation in a group inhabiting both tropical and temperate regions. Here, we compare elevational and climatic divergence among 30 sister-species pairs (14 tropical, 16 temperate) within a single family of salamanders (Plethodontidae) that reaches its greatest species richness in montane Mesoamerica. In support of Janzen's hypothesis, we find that sister species are more elevationally and climatically divergent in the tropics than in the temperate zone. This pattern seemingly reflects regional variation in the role of climate in speciation, with niche conservatism predominating in the temperate zone and niche divergence in the tropics. Our study demonstrates how latitudinal differences in elevational climatic zonation may increase opportunities for geographical isolation, speciation and the associated build-up of species diversity in the tropics relative to the temperate zone.
Project description:The latitudinal diversity gradient-the tendency for more species to occur toward the equator-is the dominant pattern of life on Earth, yet the mechanisms responsible for it remain largely unexplained. Recently, the analysis of global data has led to advances in understanding, but these advances have been mostly limited to vertebrates and trees and have not provided consensus answers. Here we synthesize large-scale geographic, phylogenetic, and fossil data for an exemplar invertebrate group-ants-and investigate whether the latitudinal diversity gradient arose due to higher rates of net diversification in the tropics, or due to a longer time period to accumulate diversity due to Earth's climatic history. We find that latitudinal affinity is highly conserved, temperate clades are young and clustered within tropical clades, and diversification rate shows no systematic variation with latitude. These results indicate that diversification time-and not rate-is the main driver of the diversity gradient in ants.
Project description:Differences in life-history traits between tropical and temperate lineages are often attributed to differences in their climatic niche dynamics. For example, the more frequent appearance of migratory behaviour in temperate-breeding species than in species originally breeding in the tropics is believed to have resulted partly from tropical climatic stability and niche conservatism constraining tropical species from shifting their ranges. However, little is known about the patterns and processes underlying climatic niche evolution in migrant and resident animals. We evaluated the evolution of overlap in climatic niches between seasons and its relationship to migratory behaviour in the Parulidae, a family of New World passerine birds. We used ordination methods to measure seasonal niche overlap and niche breadth of 54 resident and 49 migrant species and used phylogenetic comparative methods to assess patterns of climatic niche evolution. We found that despite travelling thousands of kilometres, migrants tracked climatic conditions across the year to a greater extent than tropical residents. Migrant species had wider niches than resident species, although residents as a group occupied a wider climatic space and niches of migrants and residents overlapped extensively. Neither breeding latitude nor migratory distance explained variation among species in climatic niche overlap between seasons. Our findings support the notion that tropical species have narrower niches than temperate-breeders, but does not necessarily constrain their ability to shift or expand their geographical ranges and become migratory. Overall, the tropics may have been historically less likely to experience the suite of components that generate strong selection pressures for the evolution of migratory behaviour.
Project description:Plant clonality, the ability of a plant species to reproduce itself vegetatively through ramets (shoot-root units), occurs in many plant species and is considered to be more frequent in cold or wet environments. However, a deeper understanding on the clonality-climate relationships along large geographic gradients is still scarce. In this study we revealed the clonality-climate relationships along latitudinal gradient of entire China spanning from tropics to temperate zones using clonality data for 4015 vascular plant species in 545 terrestrial communities. Structural equation modeling (SEM) showed that, in general, the preponderance of clonality increased along the latitudinal gradient towards cold, dry or very wet environments. However, the distribution of clonality in China was significantly but only weakly correlated with latitude and four climatic factors (mean annual temperature, temperature seasonality, mean annual precipitation, precipitation seasonality). Clonality of woody and herbaceous species had opposite responses to climatic variables. More precisely, woody clonality showed higher frequency in wet or climatically stable environments, while herbaceous clonality preferred cold, dry or climatically instable environments. Unexplained variation in clonality may be owed to the influences of other environmental conditions and to different clonal strategies and underlying traits adopted by different growth forms and phylogenetic lineages. Therefore, in-depth research in terms of more detailed clonal growth form, phylogeny and additional environmental variables are encouraged to further understand plant clonality response to climatic and/or edaphic conditions.
Project description:The extent to which the latitudinal gradient in species richness may be paralleled by a similar gradient of increasing functional or phylogenetic diversity is a matter of controversy. We evaluated whether taxonomic richness (TR) is informative in terms of ecological diversity (ED, an approximation to functional diversity) and phylogenetic diversity (AvPD) using data on 531 mammal species representing South American old autochthonous (marsupials, xenarthrans), mid-Cenozoic immigrants (hystricognaths, primates) and newcomers (carnivorans, artiodactyls). If closely related species are ecologically more similar than distantly related species, AvPD will be a strong predictor of ED; however, lower ED than predicted from AvPD may be due to species retaining most of their ancestral characters, suggesting niche conservatism. This pattern could occur in tropical rainforests for taxa of tropical affinity (old autochthonous and mid-Cenozoic immigrants) and in open and arid habitats for newcomers. In contrast, higher ED than expected from AvPD could occur, possibly in association with niche evolution, in arid and open habitats for taxa of tropical affinity and in forested habitats for newcomers. We found that TR was a poor predictor of ED and AvPD. After controlling for TR, there was considerable variability in the extent to which AvPD accounted for ED. Taxa of tropical affinity did not support the prediction of ED deficit within tropical rainforests, rather, they showed a mosaic of regions with an excess of ED interspersed with zones of ED deficit within the tropics; newcomers showed ED deficit in arid and open regions. Some taxa of tropical affinity showed excess of ED in tropical desert areas (hystricognaths) or temperate semideserts (xenarthrans); newcomers showed excess of ED at cold-temperate latitudes in the Northern Hemisphere. This result suggests that extreme climatic conditions at both temperate and tropical latitudes may have promoted niche evolution in mammals.
Project description:The distribution of marine bivalve species among genera and higher taxa takes the form of the classic hollow curve, wherein few lineages are species rich and many are species poor. The distribution of species among genera (S/G ratio) varies with latitude, with temperate S/G's falling within the null expectation, and tropical and polar S/G's exceeding it. Here, we test several hypotheses for this polar overdominance in the species richness of small numbers of genera. We find a significant positive correlation between the latitudinal range of a genus and its species richness, both globally and within regions. Genus age and species richness are also positively related, but this relationship breaks down when the analysis is limited to genera endemic to climate zones or with narrow latitudinal ranges. The data suggest a link between speciation and range-expansion, with genera expanding out of the tropical latitudinal bins tending to speciate more prolifically, both globally and regionally. These genera contain more species within climate zones than taxa endemic to that zone. Range expansion thus appears to be fundamentally coupled with speciation, producing the skewed distribution of species among genera, both globally and regionally, whereas clade longevity is achieved through extinction -- resistance conferred by broad geographical ranges.
Project description:The clupeoid fishes are distributed worldwide, with marine, freshwater and euryhaline species living in either tropical or temperate environments. Regional endemism is important at the species and genus levels, and the highest species diversity is found in the tropical marine Indo-West Pacific region. The clupeoid distribution follows two general pattern of species richness, the longitudinal and latitudinal gradients. To test historical hypotheses explaining the formation of these two gradients, we have examined the early biogeography of the Clupeoidei in reconstructing the evolution of their habitat preferences along with their ancestral range distributions on a time-calibrated mitogenomic phylogeny. The phylogenetic results support the distinction of nine main lineages within the Clupeoidei, five of them new. We infer several independent transitions from a marine to freshwater environment and from a tropical to temperate environment that occurred after the initial diversification period of the Clupeoidei. These results combined with our ancestral range reconstruction hypothesis suggest that the probable region of origin and diversification of the Clupeoidei during the Cretaceous period was the tropical marine precursor to the present Indo-West Pacific region. Thus, our study favors the hypotheses of "Region of origin" and "Tropical conservatism" to explain the origins of the longitudinal and latitudinal gradients of clupeoid species richness, respectively. Additional geological and paleontological evidence further define the tropical marine paleo-region of origin as the eastern Tethys Sea region. The Cretaceous fossil record of the Clupeoidei is partially incongruent with the results here as it contains taxa found outside this region. We discuss three possible causes of conflict between our biogeographical hypothesis and the distributions of the Cretaceous clupeoid fossils: regional extinction, incomplete taxonomic sampling and incorrect timescale estimation.
Project description:Recent evidence has questioned whether the Latitudinal Diversity Gradient (LDG), whereby species richness increases towards the Equator, results in higher rates of speciation in the tropics. Allowing for time heterogeneity in speciation rate estimates for over 60,000 angiosperm species, we found that the LDG does not arise from variation in speciation rates because lineages do not speciate faster in the tropics. These results were consistently retrieved using two other methods to test the association between occupancy of tropical habitats and speciation rates. Our speciation rate estimates were robust to the effects of both undescribed species and missing taxa. Overall, our results show that speciation rates follow an opposite pattern to global variation in species richness. Greater ecological opportunity in the temperate zones, stemming from less saturated communities, higher species turnover or greater environmental change, may ultimately explain these results.
Project description:Predicting how and when adaptive evolution might rescue species from global change, and integrating this process into tools of biodiversity forecasting, has now become an urgent task. Here, we explored whether recent population trends of species can be explained by their past rate of niche evolution, which can be inferred from increasingly available phylogenetic and niche data. We examined the assemblage of 409 European bird species for which estimates of demographic trends between 1970 and 2000 are available, along with a species-level phylogeny and data on climatic, habitat and trophic niches. We found that species' proneness to demographic decline is associated with slow evolution of the habitat niche in the past, in addition to certain current-day life-history and ecological traits. A similar result was found at a higher taxonomic level, where families prone to decline have had a history of slower evolution of climatic and habitat niches. Our results support the view that niche conservatism can prevent some species from coping with environmental change. Thus, linking patterns of past niche evolution and contemporary species dynamics for large species samples may provide insights into how niche evolution may rescue certain lineages in the face of global change.