Explaining global termite diversity: productivity or history?

A map of termite generic richness worldwide shows that the Ethiopian biogeographical region is most genus-rich, while the Neotropical and Indo-Malayan regions are less rich. Net primary productivity (NPP) has been postulated as a possible explanation for some diversity patterns (energy-diversity theory). We reject this as the primary explanation for termite generic richness patterns because the Ethiopian region has low NPP and a high generic richness while the Neotropical and Indo-Malayan regions have high NPP and low generic richness. We explore an alternative historical hypothesis, that differing levels of Quaternary climatic disturbance are responsible for the differences in termite generic richness between the three tropical regions.

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Eggleton, P., Williams, P.H. & Gaston, K.J. Explaining global termite diversity: productivity or history?. Biodivers Conserv 3, 318–330 (1994). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00056505

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Keywords

  • termite generic richness
  • energy-diversity theory
  • Quaternary climatic history