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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2007 Nov 13;104(46):18129-34. Epub 2007 Nov 7.

Contrarian clade confirms the ubiquity of spatial origination patterns in the production of latitudinal diversity gradients.

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  • 1Department of Geophysical Sciences, University of Chicago, 5734 South Ellis Avenue, Chicago, IL 60637, USA.


The latitudinal diversity gradient (LDG), wherein the number of species and higher taxa peaks in the tropics and decreases toward the poles, is the best-documented large-scale diversity pattern on Earth, but hypotheses explaining the standard LDG must also account for rare "contrarian" taxa that show diversity maxima outside of the tropics. For marine bivalves, one of the few groups that provide spatially explicit temporal data on a global scale, we show that a major contrarian group, the Anomalodesmata, unexpectedly exhibits the same large-scale dynamics as related clades having normal LDGs in two key respects. First, maxima in standing genus diversity and genus origination rates coincide spatially. Second, the strength of a clade's present-day LDG is significantly related to the proportion of its living genera that originated in the tropics during the late Cenozoic, with the contrarian gradient strength at both species and genus level predicted quantitatively by the values for the other clades. Geologic age distributions indicate that the anomalous LDG results from origination that is damped in the tropics rather than heightened in the temperate zones. The pervasive role of spatial origination patterns in shaping LDGs, regardless of the position of their diversity maxima, corroborates hypotheses based on clades showing standard gradients and underscores the insights that contrarian groups can provide into general principles of diversity dynamics.

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