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      Ecological and Evolutionary Drivers of Geographic Variation in Species Diversity

      Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics

      Annual Reviews

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          Community diversity: relative roles of local and regional processes.

          The species richness (diversity) of local plant and animal assemblages-biological communities-balances regional processes of species formation and geographic dispersal, which add species to communities, against processes of predation, competitive exclusion, adaptation, and stochastic variation, which may promote local extinction. During the past three decades, ecologists have sought to explain differences in local diversity by the influence of the physical environment on local interactions among species, interactions that are generally believed to limit the number of coexisting species. But diversity of the biological community often fails to converge under similar physical conditions, and local diversity bears a demonstrable dependence upon regional diversity. These observations suggest that regional and historical processes, as well as unique events and circumstances, profoundly influence local community structure. Ecologists must broaden their concepts of community processes and incorporate data from systematics, biogeography, and paleontology into analyses of ecological patterns and tests of community theory.
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            Evolution and the latitudinal diversity gradient: speciation, extinction and biogeography.

            A latitudinal gradient in biodiversity has existed since before the time of the dinosaurs, yet how and why this gradient arose remains unresolved. Here we review two major hypotheses for the origin of the latitudinal diversity gradient. The time and area hypothesis holds that tropical climates are older and historically larger, allowing more opportunity for diversification. This hypothesis is supported by observations that temperate taxa are often younger than, and nested within, tropical taxa, and that diversity is positively correlated with the age and area of geographical regions. The diversification rate hypothesis holds that tropical regions diversify faster due to higher rates of speciation (caused by increased opportunities for the evolution of reproductive isolation, or faster molecular evolution, or the increased importance of biotic interactions), or due to lower extinction rates. There is phylogenetic evidence for higher rates of diversification in tropical clades, and palaeontological data demonstrate higher rates of origination for tropical taxa, but mixed evidence for latitudinal differences in extinction rates. Studies of latitudinal variation in incipient speciation also suggest faster speciation in the tropics. Distinguishing the roles of history, speciation and extinction in the origin of the latitudinal gradient represents a major challenge to future research.
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              Butterflies and Plants: A Study in Coevolution

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics
                Annu. Rev. Ecol. Evol. Syst.
                Annual Reviews
                1543-592X
                1545-2069
                December 04 2015
                December 04 2015
                : 46
                : 1
                : 369-392
                Article
                10.1146/annurev-ecolsys-112414-054102
                © 2015

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