Ecology

Diversity Takes Time

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Science  27 May 2011:
Vol. 332, Issue 6033, pp. 1011
DOI: 10.1126/science.332.6033.1011-a
CREDIT: DAN MOEN

Like many groups of organisms in the Amazonian tropical rainforest, hylid tree frogs show very high diversity. Moreover, there is strong variation in local diversity, with some localities and regions having much higher density of species than others. Wiens et al. take a phylogenetic approach to the question of the cause of this local variation. Their analysis indicates that there is little or no relationship between variation in local species richness and climate variables such as temperature and precipitation. Nor are the rates of diversification or morphological variation correlated with local richness. Instead, diversity is related to the length of time that hylids have occupied a region. Even though diversification rates slow down when multiple clades occupy a region, species nonetheless continue to accumulate with the length of time that the region has been occupied: The highest diversity occurs where the largest number of clades have coexisted for longest.

Ecol. Lett. 14, 10.1111/j.1461-0248.2011.01625.x (2011).

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