Evol Ecol Res 8: 333-344 (2006)     Full PDF if your library subscribes.

Testing a mechanistic explanation for the latitudinal gradient in mammalian species richness across North America

A. Marm Kilpatrick,1,3* William A. Mitchell,1,4 Warren P. Porter1 and David J. Currie2

1Zoology Department, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI 53706, USA, 2Biology Department, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario K1N 6N5, Canada, 3Consortium for Conservation Medicine, 460 West 34th Street, 17th Floor, New York, NY 10001, USA and  4Department of Ecology and Organismal Biology, Indiana State University, Terre Haute, IN 47809, USA

Author to whom all correspondence should be addressed.
e-mail: kilpatrick@conservationmedicine.org


Hypothesis: Spatial variation in species richness is caused by increased maintenance metabolic costs that increase habitat overlap and decrease species richness.

Organisms: Non-volant mammals in North America.

Results: The latitudinal gradient in species richness could be completely explained by variation in maintenance metabolic costs. Additional spatial variation in species richness was positively correlated with the number of habitats (vegetation types and range in elevation) in an area.

Conclusion: Local processes of habitat selection and habitat availability are important mechanisms determining spatial variation in species richness.

Keywords: energy, evolutionarily stable strategy, mammal, optimal foraging, species diversity, thermoregulation.

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