The biogeographic history of ruminant faunas determines the phylogenetic structure of their assemblages at different scales


J. L. Cantalapiedra, Depto de Paleobiología, Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales (CSIC), Pinar 25, ES-28006 Madrid, Spain. E-mail:


Phylogenetic community structure may help us understand how macroecological and macroevolutionary processes shape assemblages at large geographical scales. In this paper, we test hypotheses linking the formation of large-scale assemblages, evolutionary processes and macroecology. To provide new insight into ruminant biogeography and evolution, phylogenetic community structure metrics were calculated for faunal assemblages at four hierarchical levels. Phylogenetic relatedness indices (net relatedness index and nearest taxon index) were determined for 59 ruminant assemblages at the landscape scale and scale of their respective climate domains (continuous biome stretches). Species pools at the global and biogeographic realm levels were used to construct null observation models. Significantly, assemblages were selected if they were distributed across biogeographic realms and represented all the world's biomes. Non-random patterns were also tested for biogeographic realms within the global ruminant species pool. By examining ruminant assemblages at different scales we were able to observe that ruminant faunas show a distribution mainly limited within the boundaries of their biogeographic realms. However, the diversification of some clades was found to be restricted to extremely arid domains in the Sahara and Arabia. The random patterns featured by other extreme climate domains could reflect phylogenetically heterogeneous filling by less biome-restricted lineages outside Africa.