Send to

Choose Destination
Am Nat. 2017 Jun;189(6):604-615. doi: 10.1086/691535. Epub 2017 Apr 7.

Speciation and the Latitudinal Diversity Gradient: Insights from the Global Distribution of Endemic Fish.


The nearly universal pattern that species richness increases from the poles to the equator (the latitudinal diversity gradient [LDG]) has been of intense interest since its discovery by early natural-history explorers. Among the many hypotheses proposed to explain the LDG, latitudinal variation in (1) productivity, (2) time and area available for diversification, and (3) speciation and/or extinction rates have recently received the most attention. Because tropical regions are older and were formerly more widespread, these factors are often intertwined, hampering efforts to distinguish their relative contributions to the LDG. Here we examine the global distribution of endemic lake fishes to determine how lake age, area, and latitude each affect the probability of speciation and the extent of diversification occurring within a lake. We analyzed the distribution of endemic fishes worldwide (1,933 species and subspecies from 47 families in 2,746 lakes) and find that the probability of a lake containing an endemic species and the total number of endemics per lake increase with lake age and area and decrease with latitude. Moreover, the geographic locations of endemics in 34 of 41 families are found at lower latitudes than those of nonendemics. We propose that the greater diversification of fish at low latitudes may be driven in part by ecological opportunities promoted by tropical climates and by the coevolution of species interactions.


endemism; latitudinal diversity gradient; speciation; species diversity

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for University of Chicago Press
Loading ...
Support Center