, Volume 140, Issue 3, pp 407–413

Energy gradients and the geographic distribution of local ant diversity

Community Ecology


Geographical diversity gradients, even among local communities, can ultimately arise from geographical differences in speciation and extinction rates. We evaluated three models—energy-speciation, energy-abundance, and area—that predict how geographic trends in net diversification rates generate trends in diversity. We sampled 96 litter ant communities from four provinces: Australia, Madagascar, North America, and South America. The energy-speciation hypothesis best predicted ant species richness by accurately predicting the slope of the temperature diversity curve, and accounting for most of the variation in diversity. The communities showed a strong latitudinal gradient in species richness as well as inter-province differences in diversity. The former vanished in the temperature-diversity residuals, suggesting that the latitudinal gradient arises primarily from higher diversification rates in the tropics. However, inter-province differences in diversity persisted in those residuals—South American communities remained more diverse than those in North America and Australia even after the effects of temperature were removed.


Species richness Temperature Area Latitude Biogeography 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of ZoologyUniversity of OklahomaNormanUSA
  2. 2.Department of EntomologyUniversity of California at DavisDavisUSA
  3. 3.Department of GeographyUniversity of OklahomaNormanUSA

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