Global comparisons of beta diversity among mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians across spatial scales and taxonomic ranks



Abstract  Beta diversity is the change in species composition among areas in a geographic region. The proportion of species shared between two areas often decreases when the distance separating them increases, leading to an increase in beta diversity. This study compares beta diversity among four classes of terrestrial vertebrates (mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians) at both regional (biogeographic realm) and global extents, using the same sets of faunal sample units for all four groups in each comparison. Beta diversity is lower for the two endothermic taxa (birds and mammals) than for the two ectothermic taxa (reptiles and amphibians) in all six biogeographic realms examined. When the four taxa in the six biogeographic realms are combined, beta diversity at the species rank is higher than that of the genus rank by a factor of 1.24, and is higher than that of the family rank by a factor of 1.85. The ratio of beta diversity at the genus rank to that at the family rank is 1.50. Beta diversity is slightly higher for ecoregions of 5000–99,999 km2 than for ecoregions of 100,000–5,000,000 km2.