Evolutionary patterns of range size, abundance and species richness in Amazonian angiosperm trees

Kyle Dexter, Jérôme Chave

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Amazonian tree species vary enormously in their total abundance and range size, while Amazonian tree genera vary greatly in species richness. The drivers of this variation are not well understood. Here, we construct a phylogenetic hypothesis that represents half of Amazonian tree genera in order to contribute to explaining the variation. We find several clear, broad-scale patterns. Firstly, there is significant phylogenetic signal for all three characteristics; closely related genera tend to have similar numbers of species and similar mean range size and abundance. Additionally, the species richness of genera shows a significant, negative relationship with the mean range size and abundance of their constituent species. Our results suggest that phylogenetically correlated intrinsic factors, namely traits of the genera themselves, shape among lineage variation in range size, abundance and species richness. We postulate that tree stature may be one particularly relevant trait. However, other traits may also be relevant, and our study reinforces the need for ambitious compilations of trait data for Amazonian trees. In the meantime, our study shows how large-scale phylogenies can help to elucidate, and contribute to explaining, macroecological and macroevolutionary patterns in hyperdiverse, yet poorly understood regions like the Amazon Basin.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e2402
Publication statusPublished - 6 Sep 2016


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