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Keywords:

  • Biodiversity;
  • endemic taxa;
  • faunal evolution;
  • forest fauna;
  • Palearctic;
  • Nearctic

Abstract. Using comprehensive range information of northern Hemisphere birds and mammals, we assessed the taxonomic diversity of these two groups in four different regions: Europe, east Asia, and western and eastern North America. East Asia is the richest region in the number of bird and mammal species, genera, families and orders, except that mammal species richness is highest in western North America. Eastern North America is taxonomically the poorest region, but when only forest-associated taxa were considered in mammals taxonomic diversity is equally low in Europe and in eastern North America, and in birds, Europe is the least diverse region. Patterns in endemic taxa follow overall taxonomic diversity. The proportion of shared taxa between regions is higher among boreal species and genera than among all taxa. A comparison with tree species diversity underpins the role of east Asia as the most diverse of all northern biota. Largely congruent patterns at different taxonomic levels emphasizes the role of historical processes, such as differential extinction rate in response to paleoenvironmental fluctuations, in producing these patterns, but we stress the need for more research on the coevolution of species diversity and habitat diversity.