What determines the climatic niche width of species? The role of spatial and temporal climatic variation in three vertebrate clades

Ignacio Quintero, John J Wiens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

48 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Aim: Climatic niche breadth (the range of climatic conditions that a species experiences over space and time) is a fundamental topic in ecology, biogeography and evolution. But what determines the climatic niche width of species? In 1967, Janzen suggested that climatic niche widths for temperature were determined by levels of seasonal fluctuation in temperature at each locality, such that niche breadths are narrow in tropical species and broad in temperate species. However, it is unclear whether climatic niche breadths of species are determined more by seasonal variability within sites as opposed to climatic variation between sites across the species' range. We address this question here. Location: Global. Methods: We analysed three vertebrate clades (plethodontid salamanders, hylid frogs and phrynosomatid lizards) for which we had phylogenetic information and climatic data from localities throughout each species' geographic range, collectively including 409 species. We tested how climatic niche breadths of localities (i.e. temporal variation) are related to overall species climatic niche breadths (i.e. temporal and spatial variation) using phylogenetic comparative methods, focusing both on temperature extremes and precipitation. Results: Across the three clades, we find that niche breadths for single localities generally span most of the species' climatic niche breadth, and are strongly correlated with overall species niche breadths. However, species with wider climatic niches also tend to show greater climatic divergence between localities. Main conclusions: The extent to which the climatic niche breadths of species are determined by variation within localities versus spatial variation between localities has been largely unexplored. Our results suggest that within-locality seasonal variation explains most variation in climatic niche breadths among species. However, between-locality variation and local adaptation may also play some role. These results require more general testing, but have several important implications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)422-432
Number of pages11
JournalGlobal Ecology and Biogeography
Volume22
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2013
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

niche breadth
niche
vertebrate
niches
vertebrates
seasonal variation
temporal variation
spatial variation
phylogenetics
temperature
phylogeny
local adaptation
salamanders and newts
space and time
biogeography
lizard
frog
lizards
frogs
divergence

Keywords

  • Amphibians
  • Climate
  • Latitude
  • Niche
  • Niche breadth
  • Phylogeny
  • Reptiles
  • Seasonality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

Cite this

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title = "What determines the climatic niche width of species? The role of spatial and temporal climatic variation in three vertebrate clades",
abstract = "Aim: Climatic niche breadth (the range of climatic conditions that a species experiences over space and time) is a fundamental topic in ecology, biogeography and evolution. But what determines the climatic niche width of species? In 1967, Janzen suggested that climatic niche widths for temperature were determined by levels of seasonal fluctuation in temperature at each locality, such that niche breadths are narrow in tropical species and broad in temperate species. However, it is unclear whether climatic niche breadths of species are determined more by seasonal variability within sites as opposed to climatic variation between sites across the species' range. We address this question here. Location: Global. Methods: We analysed three vertebrate clades (plethodontid salamanders, hylid frogs and phrynosomatid lizards) for which we had phylogenetic information and climatic data from localities throughout each species' geographic range, collectively including 409 species. We tested how climatic niche breadths of localities (i.e. temporal variation) are related to overall species climatic niche breadths (i.e. temporal and spatial variation) using phylogenetic comparative methods, focusing both on temperature extremes and precipitation. Results: Across the three clades, we find that niche breadths for single localities generally span most of the species' climatic niche breadth, and are strongly correlated with overall species niche breadths. However, species with wider climatic niches also tend to show greater climatic divergence between localities. Main conclusions: The extent to which the climatic niche breadths of species are determined by variation within localities versus spatial variation between localities has been largely unexplored. Our results suggest that within-locality seasonal variation explains most variation in climatic niche breadths among species. However, between-locality variation and local adaptation may also play some role. These results require more general testing, but have several important implications.",
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T1 - What determines the climatic niche width of species? The role of spatial and temporal climatic variation in three vertebrate clades

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AU - Wiens, John J

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N2 - Aim: Climatic niche breadth (the range of climatic conditions that a species experiences over space and time) is a fundamental topic in ecology, biogeography and evolution. But what determines the climatic niche width of species? In 1967, Janzen suggested that climatic niche widths for temperature were determined by levels of seasonal fluctuation in temperature at each locality, such that niche breadths are narrow in tropical species and broad in temperate species. However, it is unclear whether climatic niche breadths of species are determined more by seasonal variability within sites as opposed to climatic variation between sites across the species' range. We address this question here. Location: Global. Methods: We analysed three vertebrate clades (plethodontid salamanders, hylid frogs and phrynosomatid lizards) for which we had phylogenetic information and climatic data from localities throughout each species' geographic range, collectively including 409 species. We tested how climatic niche breadths of localities (i.e. temporal variation) are related to overall species climatic niche breadths (i.e. temporal and spatial variation) using phylogenetic comparative methods, focusing both on temperature extremes and precipitation. Results: Across the three clades, we find that niche breadths for single localities generally span most of the species' climatic niche breadth, and are strongly correlated with overall species niche breadths. However, species with wider climatic niches also tend to show greater climatic divergence between localities. Main conclusions: The extent to which the climatic niche breadths of species are determined by variation within localities versus spatial variation between localities has been largely unexplored. Our results suggest that within-locality seasonal variation explains most variation in climatic niche breadths among species. However, between-locality variation and local adaptation may also play some role. These results require more general testing, but have several important implications.

AB - Aim: Climatic niche breadth (the range of climatic conditions that a species experiences over space and time) is a fundamental topic in ecology, biogeography and evolution. But what determines the climatic niche width of species? In 1967, Janzen suggested that climatic niche widths for temperature were determined by levels of seasonal fluctuation in temperature at each locality, such that niche breadths are narrow in tropical species and broad in temperate species. However, it is unclear whether climatic niche breadths of species are determined more by seasonal variability within sites as opposed to climatic variation between sites across the species' range. We address this question here. Location: Global. Methods: We analysed three vertebrate clades (plethodontid salamanders, hylid frogs and phrynosomatid lizards) for which we had phylogenetic information and climatic data from localities throughout each species' geographic range, collectively including 409 species. We tested how climatic niche breadths of localities (i.e. temporal variation) are related to overall species climatic niche breadths (i.e. temporal and spatial variation) using phylogenetic comparative methods, focusing both on temperature extremes and precipitation. Results: Across the three clades, we find that niche breadths for single localities generally span most of the species' climatic niche breadth, and are strongly correlated with overall species niche breadths. However, species with wider climatic niches also tend to show greater climatic divergence between localities. Main conclusions: The extent to which the climatic niche breadths of species are determined by variation within localities versus spatial variation between localities has been largely unexplored. Our results suggest that within-locality seasonal variation explains most variation in climatic niche breadths among species. However, between-locality variation and local adaptation may also play some role. These results require more general testing, but have several important implications.

KW - Amphibians

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KW - Niche breadth

KW - Phylogeny

KW - Reptiles

KW - Seasonality

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