Biogeography

  • Article
    | Open Access

    Tree species that are expanding their distribution in response to climate change could be hindered or facilitated by disturbances. Here the authors analyse forest inventory data from the western US to test the hypothesis that wildfire can facilitate climate-induced range shifts in trees.

    • Avery P. Hill
    •  & Christopher B. Field
  • Article
    | Open Access

    There are many hypotheses for why the tropics are more biodiverse than higher latitudes. Phylogenomic analyses of 21 montane birds finds that tropical birds disperse less and have more genetically structured populations than their counterparts at higher latitudes, possibly due to a larger elevational climate gradient in the tropics

    • Gregory Thom
    • , Marcelo Gehara
    •  & Fábio Raposo do Amaral
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Mycobacterium tuberculosis is a clonal pathogen that has co-evolved with humans for millennia. Here, Freschi et al. reevaluate the population structure of M. tuberculosis, providing an in-depth analysis of the ancient Indo-Oceanic Lineage 1 and the modern Central Asian Lineage 3, and expanding our understanding of Lineages 2 and 4.

    • Luca Freschi
    • , Roger Vargas Jr.
    •  & Maha Reda Farhat
  • Article
    | Open Access

    A phylogeny of Nymphalidae butterflies unveils the origin of the latitudinal diversity gradient. This study showed that the modern pattern of species richness emerged from dynamics of dispersal and diversification that varied through time and across regions, and that global climate change throughout the Cenozoic probably played a major role in generating the biodiversity pattern.

    • Nicolas Chazot
    • , Fabien L. Condamine
    •  & Niklas Wahlberg
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Latitudinal ecosystem boundaries in the global upper ocean may be driven by many factors. Here the authors investigate pole-to-pole eukaryotic phytoplankton metatranscriptomes, gene co-expression networks, and beta diversity, finding that geographic patterns are best explained by temperature gradients.

    • Kara Martin
    • , Katrin Schmidt
    •  & Thomas Mock
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Anthropogenic extinctions are driving functional shifts in biological communities, but these changes might differ considerably among taxa and biogeographic regions. Here the authors show that projected losses of functional diversity among land and freshwater vertebrates are unevenly distributed across the world.

    • Aurele Toussaint
    • , Sébastien Brosse
    •  & Carlos P. Carmona
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Understanding how individual niches vary can inform ecology and conservation. A study of 45 GPS-tracked white storks across three breeding populations reveals that individual environmental niches are nested, arranged along a specialist-generalist gradient that is highly consistent over time.

    • Ben S. Carlson
    • , Shay Rotics
    •  & Walter Jetz
  • Article
    | Open Access

    There are relatively few known extant adaptive radiations in Europe that predate the Pleistocene. Here, Borko et al. characterize the diversity and diversification of the subterranean amphipod genus Niphargus, showing evidence for a large adaptive radiation associated with massif uplift 15 million years ago.

    • Špela Borko
    • , Peter Trontelj
    •  & Cene Fišer
  • Article
    | Open Access

    How can we best conserve the evolutionary heritage of our planet? Focusing on mammals, this study identifies the species and areas across the globe for which conservation actions would be the most beneficial for future projected phylogenetic diversity and highlights that they currently lack protection.

    • Marine Robuchon
    • , Sandrine Pavoine
    •  & Boris Leroy
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The relationship of mycorrhizal associations with latitudinal gradients in tree beta-diversity is unexplored. Using a global dataset approach, this study examines how trees with arbuscular mycorrhizal and ectomycorrhizal associations contribute to latitudinal beta-diversity patterns and the environmental controls of these patterns.

    • Yonglin Zhong
    • , Chengjin Chu
    •  & Jess K. Zimmerman
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Growing human population density and farming expansion are fuelling human-wildlife conflict. Here the authors map spatial conflict with lions and elephants across Africa, identify high-risk areas, and estimate the cost-effectiveness of mitigation fences.

    • Enrico Di Minin
    • , Rob Slotow
    •  & Craig Packer
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Both ecological opportunity and phenotypic modularity have been suggested to facilitate adaptive radiations. Feiner et al. show that Anolis lizards evolved a new modularity structure in their island adaptive radiation, but that this modularity did not produce the same extreme diversification when Anolis returned to the mainland.

    • Nathalie Feiner
    • , Illiam S. C. Jackson
    •  & Tobias Uller
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Historical climate adaptation can give insight into the potential for adaptation to contemporary changing climates. Here Bennett et al. investigate thermal tolerance evolution across much of the tree of life and find different effects of ancestral climate on the subsequent evolution of ectotherms vs. endotherms.

    • Joanne M. Bennett
    • , Jennifer Sunday
    •  & Miguel Ángel Olalla-Tárraga
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Fires triggered by climate change threaten plant diversity in many biomes. Here the authors investigate how the catastrophic fires of 2019–2020 affected the vascular flora of SE Australia. They report that 816 species were highly impacted, including taxa of biogeographic and conservation interest.

    • Robert C. Godfree
    • , Nunzio Knerr
    •  & Linda M. Broadhurst
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Forest structure depends both on extrinsic factors such as climate and on intrinsic properties such as community composition and diversity. Here, the authors use a dataset of stand structural complexity based on LiDAR measurements to build a global map of structural complexity for primary forests, and find that precipitation variables best explain global patterns of forest structural complexity.

    • Martin Ehbrecht
    • , Dominik Seidel
    •  & Christian Ammer
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Arms races between herbivores and plants have likely affected their evolutionary histories, which could have led to their high diversity. Allio et al. find that butterflies shifting to new host plants have more adaptive molecular signatures across their genomes and show repeated bursts of speciation rates.

    • Rémi Allio
    • , Benoit Nabholz
    •  & Fabien L. Condamine
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Migration is costly. In the first global analysis of migratory vertebrates, authors report that migratory birds and mammals have faster paces of life than their non-migratory relatives, and that among swimming and walking species, migrants tend to be larger, while among flying species, migrants are smaller.

    • Andrea Soriano-Redondo
    • , Jorge S. Gutiérrez
    •  & Stuart Bearhop
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Bryophytes tend to be sensitive to warming, but their high dispersal ability could help them track climate change. Here the authors combine correlative niche models and mechanistic dispersal models for 40 European bryophyte species under RCP4.5 and RCP8.5, finding that most of these species are unlikely to track climate change over the coming decades.

    • F. Zanatta
    • , R. Engler
    •  & A. Vanderpoorten
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Many models assume a universal carbon use efficiency across forest biomes, in contrast to assumptions of other process-based models. Here the authors analyse forest production efficiency across a wide range of climates to show a positive relationship with annual temperature and precipitation, indicating that ecosystem models are overestimating forest carbon losses under warming.

    • A. Collalti
    • , A. Ibrom
    •  & I. C. Prentice
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Whether or not species—when introduced to a new location—eventually become invasive has been linked to the specices’ capacity to expand its niche. However, here the authors show that the extent of niche shift is smaller in non-invasive than invasive ant species, questioning this established hypothesis.

    • Olivia K. Bates
    • , Sébastien Ollier
    •  & Cleo Bertelsmeier
  • Article
    | Open Access

    There are many available ways to rank species for conservation prioritization. Here the authors identify species of mammals and birds that are both spatially restricted and functionally distinct, finding that such species are currently insufficiently protected and disproportionately sensitive to current and future threats.

    • Nicolas Loiseau
    • , Nicolas Mouquet
    •  & Cyrille Violle
  • Article
    | Open Access

    How past climate change has affected biodiversity over large spatial scales remains underexplored. Here, the authors find marked homogenization in flowering plant phylogenetic diversity across Central and Northern Europe linked to rapid climate change and large distances to glacial refugia.

    • Bianca Saladin
    • , Loïc Pellissier
    •  & Niklaus E. Zimmermann
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Leaf economics spectrum theory has greatly advanced understanding of plant functional ecology, but it is unclear whether its predictions hold in wetland communities. Here, Pan and colleagues analyse leaf economics traits in wetland plants, showing that their trait relationships deviate from fully terrestrial plants, particularly by clustering towards acquisitive plant strategies.

    • Yingji Pan
    • , Ellen Cieraad
    •  & Peter M. van Bodegom
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Conservation biologists often assume that rare (or less abundant) species are more likely to be declining under anthropogenic change. Here, the authors synthesise population trend data for ~2000 animal species to show that population trends cover a wide spectrum of change from losses to gains, which are not related to species rarity.

    • Gergana N. Daskalova
    • , Isla H. Myers-Smith
    •  & John L. Godlee
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Soil organism biodiversity contributes to ecosystem function, but biodiversity and function have not been equivalently studied across the globe. Here the authors identify locations, environment types, and taxonomic groups for which there is currently a lack of biodiversity and ecosystem function data in the existing literature.

    • Carlos A. Guerra
    • , Anna Heintz-Buschart
    •  & Nico Eisenhauer
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Understanding why certain alien species become naturalized can shed light on biological invasion patterns. In this global analysis on thousands of taxa, van Kleunen and colleagues show that plant species of economic use are more likely to become naturalized, and that this underlies geographic patterns and phylogenetic signals in naturalization

    • Mark van Kleunen
    • , Xinyi Xu
    •  & Trevor S. Fristoe
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Both geography and ecology can drive the origins of new species. Siqueira et al. show how geological changes in the structure of Miocene reefs and the concurrent evolution of new feeding strategies combine to explain why coral reefs contain such a diversity of fish species.

    • Alexandre C. Siqueira
    • , Renato A. Morais
    •  & Peter F. Cowman
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The drivers of genetic diversity (GD) are poorly understood at the global scale. Here the authors show, for terrestrial mammals, that within-species GD covaries with phylogenetic diversity and is higher in locations with more stable past climates. They also interpolate GD for data-poor locations such as the tropics.

    • Spyros Theodoridis
    • , Damien A. Fordham
    •  & David Nogues-Bravo
  • Article
    | Open Access

    In birds, the hand-wing index is a morphological trait that can be used as a proxy for flight efficiency. Here the authors examine variation of hand-wing index in over 10,000 bird species, finding that it is higher in migratory and non-territorial species, and lower in the tropics.

    • Catherine Sheard
    • , Montague H. C. Neate-Clegg
    •  & Joseph A. Tobias
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The causes of the Upper Pleistocene megafauna extinction in Australia and New Guinea are debated, but fossil data are lacking for much of this region. Here, Hocknull and colleagues report a new, diverse megafauna assemblage from north-eastern Australia that persisted until ~40,000 years ago.

    • Scott A. Hocknull
    • , Richard Lewis
    •  & Rochelle A. Lawrence
  • Article
    | Open Access

    In contrast to bird plumage, little is known about the evolution of bird skin color. Here, Nicolaï et al. find that black skin has evolved over 100 times in birds and is associated with baldness and/or white feathers as well as with high irradiation habitats, suggesting a role in UV protection.

    • Michaël P. J. Nicolaï
    • , Matthew D. Shawkey
    •  & Liliana D’Alba
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Metagenome approaches can unravel relationships between environment, community composition, and ecological functions. Here, the authors show that bacterial communities sampled from rainwater pools can be clustered into few classes with distinct functional capacities and genetic repertoires, the assembly of which is likely driven by local conditions.

    • Alberto Pascual-García
    •  & Thomas Bell
  • Article
    | Open Access

    It is generally thought many microbes, owing to their ubiquity and dispersal capability, lack biogeographic structuring and clear speciation patterns compared to macroorganisms. However, Pinseel et al. demonstrate multiple cycles of colonization and diversification in Pinnularia borealis, a rare biosphere soil diatom.

    • Eveline Pinseel
    • , Steven B. Janssens
    •  & Wim Vyverman
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Understanding how life cycles of vectors respond to climatic factors is important to predict potential shifts in vector-borne disease risk in the coming decades. Here the authors develop a mechanistic phenological model for the invasive mosquito Aedes aegypti and apply it to project shifts under climate change scenarios.

    • Takuya Iwamura
    • , Adriana Guzman-Holst
    •  & Kris A. Murray
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Endemism is an important metric for conservation, but it may be sensitive to the measurement approach. Here Daru et al analyze global datasets of birds and amphibians and show that both weighted and phylogenetic endemism are scale dependent, across grain sizes, spatial extent and taxonomic treatment.

    • Barnabas H. Daru
    • , Harith Farooq
    •  & Søren Faurby
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Europe hosts isolated remnants of the steppe belt that once covered much of Eurasia. Here the authors combine genomic data and ecological niche modelling on three plant and three insect species to show evolution independent of the zonal steppe and high conservation value of these extrazonal steppes.

    • Philipp Kirschner
    • , Eliška Záveská
    •  & Peter Schönswetter
  • Article
    | Open Access

    It is unclear whether plant trait relationships found at the global scale extend to climatic extremes. Here the authors analyse six major aboveground traits to show that known plant trait relationships extend to the tundra biomes and exhibit the same two dimensions of variation detected at the global scale.

    • H. J. D. Thomas
    • , A. D. Bjorkman
    •  & F. T. de Vries
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Ecological niche breadth may help explain spatial distribution patterns in animals. In this study on European bats, Alberdi et al. combine DNA metabarcoding and species distribution modelling to show that dietary niche breadth is related to hunting flexibility and broad-scale spatial patterns in species distribution.

    • Antton Alberdi
    • , Orly Razgour
    •  & M. Thomas P. Gilbert
  • Article
    | Open Access

    It is unclear whether bird migration patterns are restricted to interglacial periods or are maintained during glacial maxima. Somveille et al. apply a global migration simulation model to climate reconstruction to show that the prevalence of this phenomenon has likely been largely maintained up to 50,000 years ago.

    • Marius Somveille
    • , Martin Wikelski
    •  & Walter Jetz
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Biogeographic patterns of genetic diversity are poorly documented, especially for fish species. Here the authors show that (mitochondrial) genetic diversity has global spatial organization patterns with different environmental drivers for marine and freshwater fishes, where genetic diversity is only partly congruent with species richness.

    • Stéphanie Manel
    • , Pierre-Edouard Guerin
    •  & Loïc Pellissier
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Ecologists continue to debate whether local species assemblages result from habitat filtering or from turnover among the regional species pool. Here the authors develop a “dispersion field” method to mapping species range overlaps, showing that regional turnover processes are key to local assembly.

    • Michael K. Borregaard
    • , Gary R. Graves
    •  & Carsten Rahbek
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Wetlands are global hotspots of carbon storage, but errors exist with current estimates of the extent of their carbon density. Here the authors show that mangrove sediment organic carbon stock has previously been overestimated, while ecosystem carbon stock has been underestimated.

    • Xiaoguang Ouyang
    •  & Shing Yip Lee
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Climate-induced poleward shifts in plant distributions could flatten latitudinal diversity gradients. However, here the authors show that the spread of forests after the last ice age reduced diversity in central and northern Europe, and that human land-use over the past 5000 years strengthened the latitudinal gradient in plant diversity.

    • Thomas Giesecke
    • , Steffen Wolters
    •  & Simon Brewer
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Exceptional alpine plant diversity exists in the Hengduan Mountains. Here, through genome assembly and population genomics studies, the authors find notable intraspecific divergence among Cushion willow populations isolated by the sky island-like habitats and consider it contributes to speciation and biodiversity.

    • Jia-hui Chen
    • , Yuan Huang
    •  & Hang Sun
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Broad scale patterns in the distribution of animal community functional properties could be determined by climate and disrupted by human activities. Here the authors show global patterns in large-mammal trophic structure related to climate variation, which human activities simplify in predictable ways.

    • Manuel Mendoza
    •  & Miguel B. Araújo
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Mycorrhizas—mutualistic relationships formed between fungi and most plant species—are functionally linked to soil carbon stocks. Here the authors map the global distribution of mycorrhizal plants and quantify links between mycorrhizal vegetation patterns and terrestrial carbon stocks.

    • Nadejda A. Soudzilovskaia
    • , Peter M. van Bodegom
    •  & Leho Tedersoo
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Protected areas are important refugia for wildlife, so if climate conditions within them change, wildlife could lose critical suitable habitat. Here the authors calculate the projected gain and loss of climate conditions within terrestrial protected areas worldwide.

    • Samuel Hoffmann
    • , Severin D. H. Irl
    •  & Carl Beierkuhnlein
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Satellite-borne radar systems are promising tools to obtain spatial habitat data with complete geographic coverage. Here the authors show that freely available Sentinel-1 radar data perform as well as standard airborne laser scanning data for mapping biodiversity of 12 taxa across temperate forests in Germany.

    • Soyeon Bae
    • , Shaun R. Levick
    •  & Jörg Müller
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Deep learning has the potential to identify ecological relationships between environment and complex phenotypes that are difficult to quantify. Here, the authors use deep learning to analyse associations among elevation, climate and phenotype across ~2000 moth species in Taiwan.

    • Shipher Wu
    • , Chun-Min Chang
    •  & Sheng-Feng Shen