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Environmental correlates of taxonomic and phylogenetic diversity in the Atlantic Forest


Paz, Andrea (2021), Environmental correlates of taxonomic and phylogenetic diversity in the Atlantic Forest, Dryad, Dataset,


Aim: There is little consensus on which environmental variables are best at predicting multiple dimensions of diversity. We ask whether there are common environmental correlates of diversity, despite ecological differences, across nine clades of plants and animals distributed along a single rainforest domain. For that, we the compare environmental correlates of species richness, phylogenetic diversity, and phylogenetic endemism.

Location: Brazilian Atlantic Forest

Taxon: Five clades of plants: one within the Bromelioideae subfamily, three in the family Melastomataceae (the Miconieae tribe, the genus Bertolonia, and the tribe Cambessedesieae), and one in the family Bignoniaceae ( Fridericia and allies). Four clades of animals: clearwing butterflies of the tribe Ithomiini, treefrogs of the genus Boana, horned frogs of the genus Proceratophrys, and birds in the subfamily Thraupinae.

Methods: Using curated occurrence localities and phylogenetic data, we generated maps of (i) species richness, (ii) phylogenetic diversity, (iii) residuals of phylogenetic diversity regressed on species richness, and (iv) phylogenetic endemism for all groups. We also compiled a set of 30 environmental descriptors including records of current temperature and precipitation, climatic stability over time, and topography. Through a machine learning framework, we explored the environmental correlates of each of these diversity measures for each group.

Results:  The environmental variables used here were strong predictors of diversity for all studied groups. However, models for phylogenetic endemism had lower predictive power. Although patterns of diversity are different among groups, correlates of diversity are consistent across taxa. For both species richness and phylogenetic diversity, current precipitation and precipitation stability over time were consistently ranked among the variables that strongly correlate with diversity patterns. The correlates of phylogenetic endemism were less homogenous across groups. The results also suggest that including climate stability over time is important when predicting diversity measures that reflect historical components.

Main conclusions: Investigating environmental correlates of diversity for multiple clades and diversity measures in a single geographic area allows for a better understanding of common patterns across taxa. In this study, we identified common environmental correlates of the patterns of species richness and phylogenetic diversity, but not of phylogenetic endemism, across different Atlantic Forest groups.


Fulbright Colombia

Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo, Award: 2013/50297‐0,2011/50225‐3,2017/26162‐8,2003/10335‐8,2011/50146‐6,2011/50143‐7,2011/23155‐4,2018/03428‐5

National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico, Award: 303834/2015‐3,310871/2017‐4,151281/2013‐0,232621/2014‐4,304413/2018‐6,303713/2015‐1,306204/2019‐3,301778/2015‐9,301778/2015‐9,470939/2004‐4,312697/2018‐0