No End of History

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Science  02 Feb 2007:
Vol. 315, Issue 5812, pp. 574
DOI: 10.1126/science.315.5812.574c

Teasing apart the relative roles of historical and contemporary climatic elements in determining species richness is one of the core quests of bio-geographical research. Hitherto, success has been limited because of the correlative nature of models used. Rahbek et al. have developed a new class of spatially explicit, mechanistic models that use individual species distributions as a basic currency. Application of these predictive models to the distributions of birds in South America shows that current climate explains the distributions only of the most widespread species. Their results indicate that historical factors and community assembly processes may be more important in determining the distributions of species with narrower ranges; these species are, of course, generally of greater relevance in terms of conservation efforts. In turn, this adds to growing appreciation of the importance of incorporating longer-term considerations in conservation planning. — AMS

Proc. R. Soc. B 274, 165 (2007).

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