Occurrence patterns of afrotropical ticks (Acari: Ixodidae) in the climate space are not correlated with their taxonomic relationships

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Abstract

Foci of tick species occur at large spatial scales. They are intrinsically difficult to detect because the effect of geographical factors affecting conceptual influence of climate gradients. Here we use a large dataset of occurrences of ticks in the Afrotropical region to outline the main associations of those tick species with the climate space. Using a principal components reduction of monthly temperature and rainfall values over the Afrotropical region, we describe and compare the climate spaces of ticks in a gridded climate space. The dendrogram of distances among taxa according to occurrences in the climate niche is used to draw functional groups, or clusters of species with similar occurrences in the climate space, as different from morphologically derived (taxonomical) groups. We aim to further define the drivers of species richness and endemism at such a grid as well as niche similarities (climate space overlap) among species. Groups of species, as defined from morphological traits alone, are uncorrelated with functional clusters. Taxonomically related species occur separately in the climate gradients. Species belonging to the same functional group share more niche among them than with species in other functional groups. However, niche equivalency is also low for species within the same taxonomic cluster. Thus, taxa evolving from the same lineage tend to maximize the occupancy of the climate space and avoid overlaps with other species of the same taxonomic group. Richness values are drawn across the gradient of seasonal variation of temperature, higher values observed in a portion of the climate space with low thermal seasonality. Richness and endemism values are weakly correlated with mean values of temperature and rainfall. The most parsimonious explanation for the different taxonomic groups that exhibit common patterns of climate space subdivision is that they have a shared biogeographic history acting over a group of ancestrally co-distributed organisms. © 2012 Estrada-Peña et al.

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Estrada-Peña, A., Estrada-Sánchez, A., & Estrada-Sánchez, D. (2012). Occurrence patterns of afrotropical ticks (Acari: Ixodidae) in the climate space are not correlated with their taxonomic relationships. PLoS ONE, 7(5). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0036976

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