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Keywords:

  • Amazon;
  • biogeography;
  • ecological niche modelling;
  • last glacial maximum;
  • Pleistocene

ABSTRACT

Historical patterns of connection and isolation of the impressive biological diversity of the Amazon Basin have been the subject of extensive debate, based on evidence drawn from distributional patterns of endemic species, vegetation histories from palynological studies, and geological studies. We develop species-specific ecological niche models based on current occurrence patterns of 17 species of birds and woody plants, which we project onto modelled Pleistocene (Last Glacial Maximum) climatic patterns to reconstruct past potential distributions of each species. Forest species’ distributions showed fragmentation at Last Glacial Maximum and these fragments were coincident spatially, whereas savanna species showed no clear trends. Our results suggest that past climate changes fragmented forest species’ ranges within a matrix of uncertain composition.