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Alternative pathways to diversity across ecologically distinct lizard radiations

Cite this dataset

Skeels, Alexander; Esquerré, Damien; Cardillo, Marcel (2020). Alternative pathways to diversity across ecologically distinct lizard radiations [Dataset]. Dryad.


Aim: Lizard assemblages vary greatly in taxonomic, ecological and phenotypic diversity, yet the mechanisms that generate and maintain these patterns at a macroecological scale are not well understood. We aimed to characterize the ecological and environmental drivers of species richness patterns in the context of macroecological theory for ten independent lizard radiations. Location: Global Time Period: Present-day Major taxa: Lizards Methods: We analyzed patterns of species and ecological trait diversity in ten ecologically distinct and widely distributed clades encompassing nearly all known lizard species. Using recently published spatial, phylogenetic, and ecological trait datasets, we built spatially explicit structural equation models to ask whether species diversity was directly or indirectly related to functional divergence or convergence within communities, and with features of the environment, including measures of productivity, complexity, and harshness. Results: Our results show that high species diversity is achieved via different pathways in different lizard clades, with both functionally divergent and convergent assemblages harboring high diversity in different clades. More generally, we also find common, positive effects of temperature, productivity, and topography on species richness within lizard clades. Main Conclusions: Thermal constraints, topographic complexity, and spatial structuring of functional diversity help explain the presence of highly diverse lizard assemblages, suggesting the importance of environmental filters in shaping present-day diversity and assemblage structure. Our results show how different pathways to high richness in different clades have contributed to the overall global pattern of species richness in reptiles.