, Volume 140, Issue 3, pp 407–413 | Cite as

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 



We thank Donat Agosti for providing the impetus to get this data analyzed. Field collection of data by P. S. W. was subsidized by NSF and the University of California at Davis. Data analysis by M. E. K. was supported by the National Science Foundation DEB-0212386. GIS analysis by M. Y. was in part supported by the National Science Foundation SES-0074620. Thanks to Nick Gotelli, Ian Billick, Dan Simberloff and Craig Osenberg for many useful comments on the manuscript.


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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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