• Alpha diversity;
  • beta diversity;
  • bird communities;
  • dispersal;
  • environmental filtering;
  • France;
  • gamma diversity;
  • metacommunities;
  • Rao;
  • spatial autocorrelation


Aim  To test how far can macroecological hypotheses relating diversity to environmental factors be extrapolated to functional and phylogenetic diversities, i.e. to the extent to which functional traits and evolutionary backgrounds vary among species in a community or region. We use a spatial partitioning of diversity where regional or γ-diversity is calculated by aggregating information on local communities, local or α-diversity corresponds to diversity in one locality, and turnover or β-diversity corresponds to the average turnover between localities and the region.

Location  France.

Methods  We used the Rao quadratic entropy decomposition of diversity to calculate local, regional and turnover diversity for each of three diversity facets (taxonomic, phylogenetic and functional) in breeding bird communities of France. Spatial autoregressive models and partial regression analyses were used to analyse the relationships between each diversity facet and environmental gradients (climate and land use).

Results  Changes in γ-diversity are driven by changes in both α- and β-diversity. Low levels of human impact generally favour all three facets of regional diversity and heterogeneous landscapes usually harbour higher β-diversity in the three facets of diversity, although functional and phylogenetic turnover show some relationships in the opposite direction. Spatial and environmental factors explain a large percentage of the variation in the three diversity facets (>60%), and this is especially true for phylogenetic diversity. In all cases, spatial structure plays a preponderant role in explaining diversity gradients, suggesting an important role for dispersal limitations in structuring diversity at different spatial scales.

Main conclusions  Our results generally support the idea that hypotheses that have previously been applied to taxonomic diversity, both at local and regional scales, can be extended to phylogenetic and functional diversity. Specifically, changes in regional diversity are the result of changes in both local and turnover diversity, some environmental conditions such as human development have a great impact on diversity levels, and heterogeneous landscapes tend to have higher diversity levels. Interestingly, differences between diversity facets could potentially provide further insights into how large- and small-scale ecological processes interact at the onset of macroecological patterns.