Is diversification rate related to climatic niche width?

Carola Gómez-Rodríguez, Andrés Baselga, John J. Wiens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


Diversification rates are critically important for understanding patterns of species richness, both among clades and among regions. However, the ecological correlates of variation in diversification rates remain poorly explored. Here, we test several hypotheses relating diversification rate and niche width across amphibian families (frogs and salamanders). Location: Global. Methods: We characterized climatic niches for 5784 amphibian species using databases for species distributions and climate. We estimated the niche width of each family using the range of values for climatic variables across all sampled species, and using the mean of species niche widths. We estimated diversification rates for families given their total number of described species and a time-calibrated phylogeny. We estimated relationships between variables using phylogenetic comparative methods. Results: We found a significant positive relationship between family niche width and diversification rate, but a weak relationship between mean species niche width and diversification rate, despite both niche width variables being correlated. In fact, the deviation from this relationship (i.e. residuals of family niche width versus mean species niche width) was the best predictor of diversification rate. The observed relationship between niche width and diversification was independent of clade range size and niche position (e.g. whether clades occurred in tropical or temperate climates) and significantly different from null patterns derived from random sampling effects. Main conclusions: Our results identify climatic niche width, and especially the relationship between family and species-level niche widths, as a major correlate of diversification rates among amphibian families. These results suggest that climatic niche divergence among species within clades can be important in explaining large-scale diversity patterns, possibly even more so than a clade's geographic area or whether it is primarily temperate or tropical.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)383-395
Number of pages13
JournalGlobal Ecology and Biogeography
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2015


  • Amphibians
  • Diversification
  • Niche conservatism
  • Niche divergence
  • Niche width
  • Species richness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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