environmental niche temperature precipitation Brownian rate parameter space phylogeny
Royal Society Publishing
Cooper, N, Freckleton, RP, Jetz, W, Phylogenetic conservatism of environmental niches in mammals, Proceedings Of The Royal Society B-Biological Sciences, 278, 2011
Proceedings Of The Royal Society B-Biological Sciences;278
Phylogenetic niche conservatism is the pattern where close relatives occupy similar niches, whereas distant relatives are more dissimilar. We suggest that niche conservatism will vary across clades in relation to their characteristics. Specifically, we investigate how conservatism of environmental niches varies among mammals according to their latitude, range size, body size and specialization. We use the Brownian rate parameter, s2, to measure the rate of evolution in key variables related to the ecological niche and define the more conserved group as the one with the slower rate of evolution. We find that tropical, small-ranged and specialized mammals have more conserved thermal niches than temperate, large-ranged or generalized mammals. Partitioning niche conservatism into its spatial and phylogenetic components, we find that spatial effects on niche variables are generally greater than phylogenetic effects. This suggests that recent evolution and dispersal have more influence on species’ niches than more distant evolutionary events. These results have implications for our understanding of the role of niche conservatism in species richness patterns and for gauging the potential for species to adapt to global change.
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