Climatic niche breadths of the Atlantic Forest snakes do not increase with increasing latitude

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The climatic niche is a central concept for understanding species distribution, with current and past climate interpreted as strong drivers of present and historical-geographical ranges. Our aim is to understand whether Atlantic Forest snakes follow the general geographical pattern of increasing species climatic niche breadths with increasing latitude. We also tested if there is a tradeoff between temperature and precipitation niche breadths of species in order to understand if species with larger breadths of one niche dimension have stronger dispersal constraints by the other due to narrower niche breadths. Niche breadths were calculated by the subtraction of maximal and minimal values of temperature and precipitation across species ranges. We implemented Phylogenetic Generalized Least Squares to measure the relationship between temperature and precipitation niche breadths and latitude. We also tested phylogenetic signals by Lambda statistics to analyze the degree of phylogenetic niche conservatism to both niche dimensions. Temperature niche breadths were not related to latitude. Precipitation niche breadths decreased with increasing latitude and presented a high phylogenetic signal, that is, significant phylogenetic niche conservatism. We rejected the tradeoff hypotheses of temperature and precipitation niche breadths. Our results also indicate that precipitation should be an important ecological constraint affecting the geographical distribution of snake lineages across the South American Atlantic Forest. We then provide a general view of how phylogenetic niche conservatism could impact the patterns of latitudinal variation of climatic niches across this biodiversity hotspot.
Portillo JTM, Barbo FE, Sawaya RJ.. Climatic niche breadths of the Atlantic Forest snakes do not increase with increasing latitude. Current Zoology. 2021 Nov; in press: zoab091. doi:10.1093/cz/zoab091.
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