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Ecology. 2007 May;88(5):1309-21.

A unified model of avian species richness on islands and continents.

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  • 1Ottawa-Carleton Institute of Biology, University of Ottawa, 30 Marie Curie Priv., Ottawa, Ontario KIN 6N5 Canada.

Abstract

How many species in a given taxon should be found in a delimited area in a specified place in the world? Some recent literature suggests that the answer to this question depends strongly on the geographical, evolutionary, and ecological context. For example, current theory suggests that species accumulate as a function of area differently on continents and islands. Species richness-climate relationships have been examined separately on continents and on islands. This study tests the hypotheses that (1) the functional relationship between richness and climate is the same on continents and islands; (2) the species-area slope depends on distance-based isolation; (3) species-area relationships differ among land bridge islands, oceanic islands, and continents; (4) richness differs among biogeographic regions independently of climate and isolation. We related bird species numbers in a worldwide sample of 240 continental parcels and 346 islands to several environmental variables. We found that breeding bird richness varies similarly on islands and on continents as a function of mean annual temperature, an area x precipitation interaction, and the distance separating insular samples from the nearest continent (R2 = 0.86). Most studies to date have postulated that the slope of the species-area relationship depends upon isolation. In contrast, we found no such interaction. A richness-environment relationship derived using Old World sites accurately predicts patterns of richness in the New World and vice versa (R2 = 0.85). Our results suggest that most of the global variation in richness is not strongly context-specific; rather, it reflects a small number of general environmental constraints operating on both continents and islands.

PMID:
17536416
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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