Skip to main content
SLU publication database (SLUpub)

Research article2019Peer reviewed

Understanding dispersal limitation through the assessment of diversity patterns across phylogenetic scales below the species level

Gomez-Rodriguez, Carola; Miller, Kirsten E.; Castillejo, Jose; Iglesias-Pineiro, Javier; Baselga, Andres


Aim We show how macroecological patterns at different phylogenetic scales below the species level may aid the identification of the predominant process controlling biological assemblages (niche versus dispersal). We compare two taxa with different ecological and dispersal requirements (terrestrial molluscs and leaf beetles) in the same geographical setting. Location Iberian Peninsula. Time period 2010-2015. Major taxa Terrestrial molluscs and leaf beetles. Methods The cox1-5 ' fragment was sequenced for 1,592 mollusc specimens in 20 localities. Leaf beetle assemblages had been sequenced previously in 15 of these localities. Species richness, distance decay of similarity, endemism and range size were measured at two levels: molecular variants (i.e., haplotypes) and putative species (i.e., operational taxonomic units). Using a multi-hierarchical macroecology approach, distance-decay patterns were measured at multiple intermediate genealogical levels (nested clades) to assess whether the geometry of the ranges of lineages followed a fractal pattern. Results Richness and distance-decay patterns at both molecular variant and species levels were different in leaf beetles and terrestrial molluscs, although both taxa showed a fractal pattern in the distance decay of similarity across genealogical levels. The self-similarity of the distance-decay pattern across phylogenetic scales suggests a predominance of neutral, but limited, dispersal driving macroecological patterns in both taxa. Endemism was similar in both taxa at the level of molecular variants but higher at the species level in terrestrial molluscs, and range size was smaller at both levels in terrestrial molluscs. Taken altogether, our results suggest that dispersal limitation is stronger in terrestrial molluscs. Main conclusion The assessment of how diversity patterns change at different phylogenetic scales below the species level allowed us to identify unifying characteristics in otherwise seemingly heterogeneous biological systems. Congruence was observed in diversity patterns of leaf beetles and terrestrial molluscs, suggesting that dispersal is a relevant process in both taxa but acts at a different strength.


beta diversity; dispersal; distance ߚdecay; endemism; multi-hierarchical macroecology; phylogenetic scale; range size; species-genetic diversity correlation

Published in

Global Ecology and Biogeography
2019, Volume: 28, number: 3, pages: 353-364

    UKÄ Subject classification


    Publication identifier


    Permanent link to this page (URI)