Using climate, energy, and spatial-based hypotheses to interpret macroecological patterns of North America chelonians

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Abstract

Our study investigates how factors, such as latitude, productivity, and several environmental variables, influence contemporary patterns of the species richness in North American turtles. In particular, we test several hypotheses explaining broad-scale species richness patterns on several species richness data sets: (i) total turtles, (ii) freshwater turtles only, (iii) aquatic turtles, (iv) terrestrial turtles only, (v) Emydidae, and (vi) Kinosternidae. In addition to spatial data, we used a combination of 25 abiotic variables in spatial regression models to predict species richness patterns. Our results provide support for multiple hypotheses related to broadscale patterns of species richness, and in particular, hypotheses related to climate, productivity, water availability, topography, and latitude. In general, species richness patterns were positively associated with temperature, precipitation, diversity of streams, coefficient of variation of elevation, and net primary productivity. We also found that North America turtles follow the general latitudinal diversity gradient pattern (i.e., increasing species richness towards equator) by exhibiting a negative association with latitude. Because of the incongruent results among our six data sets, our study highlights the importance of considering phylogenetic constraints and guilds when interpreting species richness patterns, especially for taxonomic groups that occupy a myriad of habitats.

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Ennen, J. R., Agha, M., Matamoros, W. A., Hazzard, S. C., & Lovich, J. E. (2016). Using climate, energy, and spatial-based hypotheses to interpret macroecological patterns of North America chelonians. Canadian Journal of Zoology, 94(7), 453–461. https://doi.org/10.1139/cjz-2016-0033

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