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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2021

Conserved ancestral tropical niche but different continental histories explain the latitudinal diversity gradient in brush-footed butterflies

Chazot, Nicolas; Condamine, Fabien L.; Dudas, Gytis; Pena, Carlos; Kodandaramaiah, Ullasa; Matos-Maravi, Pavel; Aduse-Poku, Kwaku; Elias, Marianne; Warren, Andrew D.; Lohman, David J.; Penz, Carla M.; DeVries, Phil; Fric, Zdenek F.; Nylin, Soren; Muller, Chris; Kawahara, Akito Y.; Silva-Brandao, Karina L.; Lamas, Gerardo; Kleckova, Irena; Zubek, Anna;
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The global increase in species richness toward the tropics across continents and taxonomic groups, referred to as the latitudinal diversity gradient, stimulated the formulation of many hypotheses to explain the underlying mechanisms of this pattern. We evaluate several of these hypotheses to explain spatial diversity patterns in a butterfly family, the Nymphalidae, by assessing the contributions of speciation, extinction, and dispersal, and also the extent to which these processes differ among regions at the same latitude. We generate a time-calibrated phylogeny containing 2,866 nymphalid species (similar to 45% of extant diversity). Neither speciation nor extinction rate variations consistently explain the latitudinal diversity gradient among regions because temporal diversification dynamics differ greatly across longitude. The Neotropical diversity results from low extinction rates, not high speciation rates, and biotic interchanges with other regions are rare. Southeast Asia is also characterized by a low speciation rate but, unlike the Neotropics, is the main source of dispersal events through time. Our results suggest that global climate change throughout the Cenozoic, combined with tropical niche conservatism, played a major role in generating the modern latitudinal diversity gradient of nymphalid butterflies.

Published in

Nature Communications
2021, volume: 12, number: 1, article number: 5717

Authors' information

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Ecology
Lund University
University of Gothenburg
Condamine, Fabien L.
Universite de Montpellier
Dudas, Gytis
University of Gothenburg
Pena, Carlos
Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos
Kodandaramaiah, Ullasa
Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) - Bhopal
Matos-Maravi, Pavel
University of Gothenburg
Matos-Maravi, Pavel
Czech Academy of Sciences
Aduse-Poku, Kwaku
University System of Georgia
Elias, Marianne
Sorbonne Universite
Warren, Andrew D.
University of Florida
Lohman, David J.
City College of New York (CUNY)
Penz, Carla M.
University of New Orleans
DeVries, Phil
University of New Orleans
Fric, Zdenek F.
Czech Academy of Sciences
Nylin, Soren
Stockholm University
Muller, Chris
Australian Museum
Kawahara, Akito Y.
University of Florida
Silva-Brandao, Karina L.
Universidade Estadual de Campinas
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