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Keywords:

  • Climate change;
  • climate conservation;
  • climate variability;
  • latitudinal gradients;
  • mammalian biogeography;
  • orbitally forced range dynamics;
  • random distributions;
  • species distributions;
  • species occurrence data

ABSTRACT

Species occurrence databases and climate databases were used to examine differences in patterns of species experienced climate across latitude for wide-ranging rodents in the central-eastern and western North America. The accumulated data were used to address three questions: (1) Do rodent species in the central and eastern region of North America select habitat at range edges to remain closer to climate conditions at the range core? (2) Is there a trend toward species having greater experienced climate variation consistent with smaller effects of orbitally controlled climate oscillations in the south vs. north? (3) How do species experienced temperature, precipitation, and elevation means and variation in this region compare to rodent species in the adjacent but more heterogeneous western North America? Results showed that central-eastern North American species occur in as wide a range of environmental conditions as available throughout their ranges. These patterns are different from previous findings for rodents in the adjacent western USA and highlight major differences in current structure of species experienced environmental means and variation over latitude for species in spatially heterogeneous, mountainous areas vs. those that occupy flatter lands. The differences are likely important for determining differential response to climate changes.