Latitudinal and elevational richness gradients have received much attention from ecologists but there is little consensus on underlying causes. One possible proximate cause is increased levels of species turnover, or β diversity, in the tropics compared to temperate regions. Here, we leverage a large botanical dataset to map taxonomic and phylogenetic β diversity, as mean turnover between neighboring 100 × 100 km cells, across the Americas and determine key climatic drivers. We find taxonomic and tip-weighted phylogenetic β diversity is higher in the tropics, but that basal-weighted phylogenetic β diversity is highest in temperate regions. Supporting Janzen's ‘mountain passes’ hypothesis, tropical mountainous regions had higher β diversity than temperate regions for taxonomic and tip-weighted metrics. The strongest climatic predictors of turnover were average temperature and temperature seasonality. Taken together, these results suggest β diversity is coupled to latitudinal richness gradients and that temperature is a major driver of plant community composition and change.
- Jaccard dissimilarity
- New World
- biome assembly
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics