Evolutionary Imprints on Species Distribution Patterns Across the Neotropics

Part of the Fascinating Life Sciences book series (FLS)


Species diversity is unevenly distributed across the Neotropical region. Distinct biological groups have notably similar patterns of species richness, with peaks in richness usually associated with tropical regions. However, how diversification occurred across space and time for each group, leading to the current diversity patterns, are less understood. Differences among clades can be expected from their distinct ecologies and evolutionary histories. We mapped the occurrence of 1100 + species of Neotropical vertebrates belonging to seven clades with evolutionary histories primarily confined to the Neotropics. For each clade, we analyzed the spatial distribution of phylogenetic turnover of species assemblages, and contrasted the observed patterns among different clades. We also investigated which environmental or biogeographic factors were most associated with phylogenetic turnover, using permutational regression on dissimilarity matrices. We discovered that spatial patterns of phylogenetic turnover between sites are strikingly similar for distinct vertebrate groups, and cannot be predicted from within-lineage relatedness—a surprising result given the differences in ecology and history of colonization among clades. For most groups, biogeographic units predicted phylogenetic turnover better than environmental variables. This suggests that vicariant and dispersal events that took place during the settlement of each vertebrate clade may have been similar in mode and place, even if the timing was different. The fact that environmental variables alone were less predictive of phylogenetic turnover for most clades suggests that current climatic and topographical features are less determinant of phylogenetic lineage distribution than former, biogeographic processes.


Biogeographical patterns Historical diversification Phylogenetic beta diversity Phylogenetic composition Phylogenetic fuzzy weighting Principal coordinates of phylogenetic structure Tetrapods 



We thank Lucila Amador for providing a phylogeny for Didelphidae and Cristiano Nogueira and Jéssica Fenker for data on Bothrops. Alexandre Antonelli, Ana Carolina Carnaval, and one anonymous reviewer provided extensive feedbacks that improved previous versions of this chapter. RM was supported by a CNPq postdoctoral fellowship (150391/2017-0) during the initial preparation of this chapter. LD research activities have been supported by CNPq Productivity Fellowship (grant 307886/2015-8) and developed in the context of National Institutes for Science and Technology (INCT) in Ecology, Evolution and Biodiversity Conservation, supported by MCTIC/CNPq (proc. 465610/2014-5) and FAPEG (proc. 201810267000023).


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departamento de EcologiaUniversidade Federal do Rio Grande do SulPorto AlegreBrazil

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