Evolutionary Ecology

, Volume 19, Issue 3, pp 199–219

Macroevolutionary Processes and Biomic Specialization: Testing the Resource-use Hypothesis

Research Article

DOI: 10.1007/s10682-004-8152-7

Cite this article as:
Hernández fernández, M. & Vrba, E. Evol Ecol (2005) 19: 199. doi:10.1007/s10682-004-8152-7


The resource-use hypothesis predicts that generalist species have lower speciation and extinction rates than specialists. In this work we test several subsidiary predictions of the resource-use hypothesis using the biomic specialization index (BSI) for each African large mammal species, which is based on its geographical range within different climate zones. This index can be used globally allowing intercontinental and intertaxa comparisons. Our results are consistent with the axioms of the resource-use hypothesis theory, which predicts (1) a high frequency of stenobiomic species, (2) carnivores are more eurybiomic than herbivore clades (particularly, Artiodactyla and Primates), (3) the higher incidence of these biomic specialists in the tropical rainforest and desert biomes, and (4) the fact that certain combinations of inhabited biomes occur more frequently among species than do others. We also found that the tropical deciduous woodland is an important source of new species, and that there is a macroevolutionary segregation between extreme eurybiomic species (inhabitants of five or more biomes) and ‘semi-eurybiomic’ species (inhabitants of 2–5 biomes). These results can also be explained within the premises of the resource-use hypothesis. Finally, we discuss the relevance of our results to the understanding of the latitudinal gradient in species richness.


Africabioclimatologyecological specializationmacroecologymacroevolutionMammaliaspeciation

Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Manuel Hernández fernández
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Elisabeth S. Vrba
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Geology and Geophysics, Kline Geology LaboratoryYale UniversityNew HavenUSA
  2. 2.Departamento de Paleobiología, Museo Nacional de Ciencias NaturalesConsejo Superior de Investigaciones CientíficasMadrid
  3. 3.Departamento de Paleontología, Facultad de Ciencias GeológicasUniversidad Complutense de MadridMadridSpain