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Data from: Environmental constraints on the compositional and phylogenetic beta-diversity of tropical forest snake assemblages


Moura, Mario R.; Costa, Henrique C.; Argôlo, Antonio J. S.; Jetz, Walter (2018), Data from: Environmental constraints on the compositional and phylogenetic beta-diversity of tropical forest snake assemblages, Dryad, Dataset,


The ongoing biodiversity crisis increases the importance and urgency of studies addressing the role of environmental variation on the composition and evolutionary history of species assemblages, but especially the tropics and ectotherms remain understudied. In regions with rainy summers, coexistence of ectothermic species may be determined by the partitioning of the climatic niche, since ectotherms can rely on water availability and thermoregulatory behaviour to buffer constraints along their climatic niche. Conversely, ectotherms facing dry summers would have fewer opportunities to climatic niche partitioning and other processes rather than environmental filtering would mediate species coexistence. We used 218 snake assemblages to quantify the compositional (CBD) and phylogenetic (PBD) beta-diversity of snakes in the Atlantic Forest (AF) hotspot. We identify two AF regions with distinct climatological regimes: dry summers in the northern-AF and rainy summers in the southern-AF. While accounting for the influence of multiscale spatial processes, we disentangle the relative contribution of thermal, water-related, and topographic conditions in structuring the CBD and PBD of snake assemblages, and determine the extent in which snake assemblages under distinct climatological regimes are affected by environmental filtering. Thermal conditions best explain CBD and PBD of snakes for the whole AF, whereas water-related factors best explain the structure of snake assemblages within a same climatological regime. CBD and PBD patterns are similarly explained by spatial factors but snake assemblages facing dry summers are more affected by spatial processes operating at fine to intermediate spatial scale whereas those assemblages in regions with rainy summers have a stronger signature of coarser-scale processes. As expected, environmental filtering plays a stronger role in southern-AF than northern-AF, and the synergism between thermal and water-related conditions is the key cause behind this difference. Differences in climatological regimes within the tropics may affect processes mediating species coexistence. The role of broad-scale gradients (e.g. temperature, precipitation) in structuring tropical ectothermic assemblages is greater in regions with rainy summers where climatic niche partitioning is more likely. Our findings highlight the potential stronger role of biotic interactions and neutral processes in structuring ectothermic assemblages facing changes towards warmer and dryer climates.

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Atlantic Forest