Species distribution, ecology, abundance, body size and phylogeny originate interrelated rarity patterns at regional scale

Authors

  • Simone Fattorini,

    Corresponding author
    1. Azorean Biodiversity Group (CITA-A) and Platform for Enhancing Ecological Research & Sustainability (PEERS), Department of Ciências Agrárias, Angra do Heroísmo, Universidade dos Açores, Terceira, Açores, Portugal
    • Water Ecology Team, Department of Biotechnology and Biosciences, University of Milano Bicocca, Milan, Italy
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  • Agnese Sciotti,

    1. Dipartimento di Scienze, Università degli Studi Roma Tre, Rome, Italy
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  • Patrizio Tratzi,

    1. Dipartimento di Scienze, Università degli Studi Roma Tre, Rome, Italy
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  • Andrea Di Giulio

    1. Dipartimento di Scienze, Università degli Studi Roma Tre, Rome, Italy
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Corresponding author: Simone Fattorini (simone_fattorini@virgilio.it)

Abstract

The most pervasive macroecological patterns concern (1) the frequency distribution of range size, (2) the relationship between range size and species abundance and (3) the effect of body size on range size. We investigated these patterns at a regional scale using the tenebrionid beetles of Latium (Central Italy). For this, we calculated geographical range size (no. of 10-km square cells), ecological tolerance (no. of phytoclimatic units) and abundance (no. of sampled individuals) using a large database containing 3561 georeferenced records for 84 native species. For each species, we also calculated body mass and its ‘phylogenetic diversity’ on the basis of cladistic relationships. Frequency distribution of range size followed a log-normal distribution as found in many other animal groups. However, a log-normal distribution accommodated well the frequency distribution of ecological tolerance, a so far unexplored issue. Range size was correlated with abundance and ecological tolerance, thus supporting the hypothesis that a positive correlation between distribution and abundance is a reflection of interspecific differences in ecological specialization. Larger species tended to have larger ranges and broader ecological tolerance. However, contrary to what known in most vertebrates, not only small-sized, but also many medium-to-large-sized species exhibited great variability in their range size, probably because tenebrionids are not so strictly influenced by body size constraints (e.g. home ranges) as vertebrates. Moreover, in contrast to other animals, tenebrionid body size does not influence species abundances, probably because these detritivorous animals are not strongly regulated by competition. Finally, contrary to the assumption that rare species should be mainly found among lineages that split from basal nodes, rarity of a tenebrionid species was not influenced by the phylogenetic position of its tribe. However, lineages that split from more basal nodes had lower variability in terms of species geographical distribution, ecological tolerance and abundance, which suggests that lineages that split from more basal nodes are not only morphologically conservative but also tend to have an ecological ‘inertia’.

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