Evol Ecol Res 15: 869-882 (2013)     Full PDF if your library subscribes.

Patterns in the diversity of the world’s land vertebrate genera

Michael L. Rosenzweig1,2, Vanessa Buzzard1, John Donoghue II1, Gavin Lehr2, Natasha Mazumdar3, Haley M. Rasmussen4, Irena Simova5, Scott Trageser1, Heather Wernett1 and Jingzi Xu6

1Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, USA,  2College of Science, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, USA,  3College of Fine Arts, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, USA,  4College of Education, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, USA,  5Center for Theoretical Study, Prague, Czech Republic and  6Department of Environmental Sciences, East China Normal University, Shanghai, China

Correspondence: M.L. Rosenzweig, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721-0088, USA.
e-mail: scarab@u.arizona.edu


Background: The number of species of terrestrial vertebrate in one of the world’s great zoological regions fits a linear combination of area (A) and one climatic variable – either annual actual evapotranspiration (AE) or mean annual temperature (T) – with an R2 of 0.97. The same is true of species diversity in the four separate classes of terrestrial vertebrate; their R2-values range from 0.90 to 0.95.

Goals: Determine whether the number of genera, G, fits the same or a similar pattern. Measure the relationship between G and S (the number of species). Estimate the effect of total breakdown of biogeographical barriers on G.

Data: The global terrestrial vertebrate data sets of the World Wildlife Fund. We used 755 of their 825 ecoregions and all 24,992 species in those 755 ecoregions. The WWF ecoregion data sets have names, locations, ID numbers, areas, and 102 climatic variables.

Results: The patterns for area, temperature, AE, and genera closely follow the patterns for species. Area, by itself, significantly fit the number of genera in the zoological regions. But a linear combination of log A and log AE significantly improved that fit. It closely and significantly fit log G (R2 = 0.972). The same was true of a linear combination of log A and T (R2 = 0.964). Each of the separate classes of vertebrate exhibited the same patterns as total G, although their R2-values were slightly less. Neither climate variable was significant by itself in any case. G also fit the number of species very closely (R2 = 0.99). The fit is a power function with a coefficient of 0.77, so that there are more species per genus in provinces with high than low diversity. The Neotropics (most diverse) have 5.22 species per genus; Hawaii (least diverse) has 1.74 species per genus. The advent of the Homogocene (complete homogenization of the world’s zoological regions) would cause the extinction of 49% of her terrestrial vertebrate genera, leaving sustainable only 2239 of the 4416 now sustainable. In addition, loss of natural terrestrial area would further reduce sustainable G. For example, loss of 80% of the area (the currently sanctioned international hope is to protect 20%) would lead to the extinction of 54% more genera, leaving only 1021.

Keywords: global generic diversity, conservation biology, New Pangaea, World Wildlife Fund.

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        © 2013 Miohael L. Rosenzweig. All EER articles are copyrighted by their authors. All authors endorse, permit and license Evolutionary Ecology Ltd. to grant its subscribing institutions/libraries the copying privileges specified below without additional consideration or payment to them or to Evolutionary Ecology, Ltd. These endorsements, in writing, are on file in the office of Evolutionary Ecology, Ltd. Consult authors for permission to use any portion of their work in derivative works, compilations or to distribute their work in any commercial manner.

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